Allen B. West

Baby and flag photo sparks hateful backlash against photographer

Getty Images

Some things absolutely make you proud for having served and truly embody that sense of sacrifice and commitment to future generations. I found that emotion captured in a photo that amazingly to me — and perhaps to you — came under vicious attack.

As reported by Fox News, “a Virginia photographer triggered a harsh backlash on Facebook after she posted a picture of a U.S. sailor holding his newborn child in an American flag. The photo was taken by Vanessa Hicks, who served in the Navy and whose husband is currently deployed. But some people did not see it as patriotic. They viewed it as a disrespectful use of the American flag.”

“A Facebook page called You Call Yourself a Photographer? shared the picture and wrote, “The flag is not a prop. I repeat: THE FLAG IS NOT A PROP. To use the American flag in such a way is disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting, and against the U.S. Flag Code.” The person also called the sailor “disgusting” for posing with his child in this manner and said the picture dishonors U.S. soldiers who have died. Several similar comments followed, with some calling for Hicks to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

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I personally can’t think of any better representation of what it means to serve this country in uniform than this picture. Those of us who have taken the oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same” do so for our nation’s children so they will have a peaceful world and a security that enables them to enjoy the blessings of liberty and freedom this Republic affords.

No the flag is not a prop. When our Olympic athletes wrap the flag around themselves – like those hockey players did after the 1980 triumphant “miracle on ice” – it is a symbol of pride.

Capturing a sailor with his newborn wrapped in the American flag is just about as good as it gets. This photo depicts why we warriors are willing to make the “last full measure of devotion.” Anyone not seeing the simplicity, patriotism and love in this photo, well, they have their head up their “fourth point of contact.”

This shameful behavior displayed towards Ms. Hicks, a former sailor whose husband is deployed, is despicable.

“The person also called the sailor “disgusting” for posing with his child in this manner and said the picture dishonors U.S. soldiers who have died. Several similar comments followed, with some calling for Hicks to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

In a “Fox and Friends” exclusive, Hicks responded to the harsh criticism, saying she felt like “curling up in a ball” and crying after these comments. “I got messages saying ‘go kill yourself,’ that you don’t deserve to be a veteran, that your husband should be ashamed of himself and attacks on the service member holding that baby as well,” said Hicks. But she said she chose to keep the photo up in order to take a stand against what she sees as cyber-bullying. “I have two young daughters and I would not want them to back down to any type of bully. So I decided to take a stand because I believed in the photo. I did not feel that I had done anything wrong. I felt that this photo represents what every military member, past, present and future, fights for,” she said.” I commend Ms. Hicks for not backing down, her own children will remember this moment wen she did not cower but instead stood strong, “like a rock.”

This episode reminds me of the ridiculous criticism levied against me because I went scuba diving with disabled veterans and we planted an American flag with disabled veterans to a depth of about 80 feet. We went down on to a sunken wreck off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida and took a picture gathered round the flag which flew strong in the ocean current. If we can skydive with the American flag from the heights above — we can also dive with our symbol of exceptionalism and courage to the ocean depths, especially those of us who have stood upon freedom’s ramparts.

diveheart_flaguw1

The beauty of the Internet is that it allows us to share stories and information — to be connected. The sad thing about the Internet is that it allows cowards to say really hurtful and stupid things with no consequences. But for the courageous, they press on!

This picture is phenomenal and should become a lasting reminder of why our men and women take the oath and serve — for those little ones, who just may one day grow up and accept the call to arms as well. To the jackass who started the disgusting Facebook page, just know your freedom of speech to say dumb stuff is made possible by people like Vanessa Hicks, her husband, the sailor in the photo, and in the future, perhaps the little baby, an American baby, being cradled in our national symbol.

God bless you Vanessa, your family, and your continued service and sacrifice to our beloved Constitutional Republic, these great United States of America.

Steadfast and Loyal.

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