As a graduate student at Columbia University in 1968 and participant in student sit-ins and demonstrations against the Vietnam War, I broke with rioters’ practice of burning the American flag.

I believed their actions were counterproductive and served to alienate that large segment of Middle America, World War II veterans and their families, who were needed as allies in the upcoming presidential election to end that American tragedy. Rather, I suggested that the demonstrators wrap themselves, figuratively and literally, in the American flag representing the ideals of our country for which Americans fought and died and were so dishonored and disgraced by the Johnson administration.

Today, as protests against racial discrimination and the Trump administration erupt throughout the land and sporadic flag burnings fill the streets, I ask demonstrators to embrace the flag and defeat the racists and Trump “patriots,” the true defilers of the Declaration of Independence and the American flag.

Lawrence R. Kaplan

Cape Elizabeth

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