A photographer and Navy veteran took heat on Facebook this week after posting a photo of a friend and fellow veteran holding her infant child in a cradle made with an American flag.
Vanessa Hicks, a professional photographer from Virginia, posted the original photo to her Facebook page on March 8. In it, her friend and fellow veteran cradles his 8-day-old son, “Mr. Landon,” with a rolled-up American flag.
“This time, he was wide awake for me!” Hicks captioned the photograph. “I couldn’t wait to come home and edit these pictures!!”
However, the following day, a Facebook page titled “You Call Yourself a Photographer?” reposted the photo with a caption suggesting that Hicks had violated the U.S. Flag Code:
“The flag is not a prop. I repeat: THE FLAG IS NOT A PROP,” the group wrote. “To use the American flag in such a way is disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting and against the U.S. Flag Code.”
After the other group reposted her photo, Hicks apparently began receiving hate messages on Facebook, with some saying she had “disrespected our country by taking this picture.” Hicks explained in a follow-up post that after some thought, she decided to visit the other page and “stand up” for the photo. Hicks wrote:
I am very well aware of our U.S Flag code. I also know exactly what desecration of a flag is. It’s when you pull into ports and you see protestors with our flag and have spray painted horrible things on it. It’s when you watch the news and you see other countries burning our flags, and you are a young Quartermaster scared because you know you are just a few nautical miles from that exact country.
I almost let these cyber bullies get me yesterday. I could have easily in deleted the picture off of my business page and ended it with that. I almost did. Then I thought, WHY?
Hicks explained that she visited the other page and “stood up” for the photo.
“I didn’t ask for any of this. I just took a picture,” Hicks wrote. “But, I stood up for the picture. To me, that is what being an American is about.”
The U.S. Flag Code is a set of guidelines on proper treatment of and respect for the American flag, but no punishments are prescribed for violations.
It appears that Vanessa Hicks will be getting the last word — and laugh. She has been deluged with support from all over the country for taking a stand — so much support that Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox and Friends have all come calling. She has been inundated with requests for photo shoots and promises to donate 15% of her profits to the USO.