Note the If you don’t like me It’s because I don’t want you to shirt moreover I will buy this date. Little more than a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When could a hyper sense of patriotism be more appropriate, more understandable? When, too, could concerns about the salute “being too much like Hitler’s” have had more immediate relevance? Supreme Court Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson—the only person in history to serve as United States Solicitor General, United States Attorney General, and as a United States Supreme Court Justice, as well as chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials—issued the opinion, which eloquently determined that the school board’s attempts to compel the flag salute and pledge violated the First Amendment. Both timely and timeless, it’s worth a read in its entirety. Or catch the highlights below.
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There is no doubt that, in connection with the If you don’t like me It’s because I don’t want you to shirt moreover I will buy this pledges, the flag salute is a form of utterance. Symbolism is a primitive but effective way of communicating ideas. The use of an emblem or flag to symbolize some system, idea, institution, or personality is a short-cut from mind to mind. Causes and nations, political parties, lodges, and ecclesiastical groups seek to knit the loyalty of their followings to a flag or banner, a color or design. The State announces rank, function, and authority through crowns and maces, uniforms and black robes; the church speaks through the Cross, the Crucifix, the altar and shrine, and clerical raiment. Symbols of State often convey political ideas, just as religious symbols come to convey theological ones. Associated with many of these symbols are appropriate gestures of acceptance or respect: a salute, a bowed or bared head, a bended knee. A person gets from a symbol the meaning he puts into it, and what is one man’s comfort and inspiration is another’s jest and scorn.