"The Star Spangled Banner" was among the patriotic tunes heard ringing through downtown Friday afternoon as a group advocating an anti-flag-burning amendment to the U.S. Constitution plied their message in Salt Lake City.
The band, sponsored by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, is part of a group of 30 volunteers who have spent five weeks traveling through the country collecting signatures to petition for their cause.John Drake, coordinator of the group, said more than 125,000 signatures have been collected.
"We're getting such a good reaction," he said. "Most people are truly shocked at the Supreme Court ruling."
Along with collecting signatures, the society has released an official statement which has been distributed in leaflets during the campaigns. "Our Flag, Our Honor: Is Desecrating It One of America's Freedoms?" is the title of the statement, which emphasizes that "the nation's stability rests less upon the unchanging nature of its laws than upon the respect, love and enthusiasm with which her children honor her."
Drake said the group, which started in New York, has traveled by bus across the country, stopping at more than a dozen major cities, including Miami, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Drake said the group will arrive in Washington, D.C., in time to hand over the petitions before the Senate votes on the amendment on Oct. 16.
Dreux Gabler, a campaign volunteer who recently graduated from the University of San Francisco, said the positive results reconfirm what everyone feels about the issue.
"Most people feel the same way we do about the desecration of the flag," he said. "They just haven't organized these feelings into petitions."
Gabler said he wasn't sure what would be appropriate punishment for those caught destroying the flag. He said his main concern is to get the amendment.
"Law is a teacher," he said. "Children growing up need to respect and honor the flag."