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Photo of baby cradled in American flag sparks controversy

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(CNN) — It’s a striking image: a new baby cradled in the American flag, held by a Navy sailor whose face we can’t see.

But is it a patriotic photograph or desecration of the American flag?

Navy veteran Vanessa Hicks, a Virginia Beach photographer whose website is filled with sweet images of babies and their parents, shot the picture of the sailor and his baby and posted it to her Facebook page.

“I do believe that this picture right here shows what it means to be an American,” Hicks told CNN affiliate WTKR.”That flag, the uniform, that baby — exactly what every service member is out there fighting.”

Not everyone agreed with Hicks, herself a Navy wife whose husband is deployed.

A Facebook page titled “You call yourself a photographer?” posted her photo and said that the use of the flag as a prop was a desecration — and a bad picture.

The U.S. Flag Code does state that the flag should never be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free,” according to a Congressional Research Service report (PDF).

Nor should it be “used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.”

The threatening private messages, which she has reported them to Facebook, saddened her. But she decided to keep posting the picture and to take pictures of other members of the military who request the same picture with their babies and the flag.

Most people posting to the critical Facebook page disagree with the criticism of the picture. Wrote one poster, “I am a veteran and find this picture beautiful. Clearly the military member loves his country and baby.”

“The photo is making a point,” another photo fan posted. “The flag represents our republic, the republic is supporting our future. There is nothing disrespectful about this use of our flag. It is beautiful.”

By Katia Hetter of CNN

7 comments

  • Rob

    I think the photo is the epitome of patriotism, depicting the three things that hero has the most pride in.
    Side note: This typo struck me pretty odd. I don’t think every service member is out there fighting that flag, the uniform, or that baby. Maybe they’re fighting FOR them? FTA: ”That flag, the uniform, that baby — exactly what every service member is out there fighting.”

  • Sarah

    Omg! Get over yourselves already! What, jealous you didn’t think of this first?! This is absolutely beautiful! And wake call you ignorant dumb, non American like assholes, this is not even an American flag!! It’s a prop from the dollar store, intended to be used as such! You people are what is wrong with this country today:so quick to judge and you don’t think before you speak! Get on with your boring lives and leave patriotism alone!!!

    • Hummingbrd59

      I agree with Sarah. What a beautiful picture. Freedom of speech and expression. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Now, lets get serious. I work in environment, that comes into contact with the poverty stricken, homeless, mentally ill and drug addicted, who are sucking million of dollars out of the system and tax dollars that are astronomical. Until you witness what I see on a daily basis, in our country’s emergency rooms and realize that there are much bigger concerns then getting upset about a picture of someone who serves our country and the baby wrapped in a flag, the problems will continue. Get outraged at the amount of cuts to our Mental Health system, and how there needs to be more funds, not cutting funds to treat and house these individuals. Some will never get well. Get real people and wake up and take care of the real problems this country faces. I served as a Navy wife for 15 years, and I love the picture!

  • Ron

    The out cry should be the College Professors and students who banned the flag as a Racist symbol!!!! This is a veteran and a patriot!!!! Do you not see the military uniform? They earned the right to wrap their child in the Flag of the Country they proudly serve!!! And yes, i’m a 20 yr Vet myself!!!! God Bless AMERICA!!!!

  • Curious

    The symbol of a veteran wrapping his child in the country he loves and chose to defend with his life if asked to. Who more has this right. I would defend his or her right to do this as I defended that flag years ago.

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