Monday, June 14, is flag day. These days, that makes me cringe because we have turned the flag and our national anthem into lightning rods of controversy.
Years ago, Congress decided to pass a law making burning the flag illegal. This was at a time when people would stand in the public square and burn a flag. Most times, these people were citizens of the U.S.
The courts ruled that burning the flag was a protected form of free speech.
On three occasions, my daddy took a few Nazi bullets (real Nazis, not some fringe outfit from this country), to make sure we could fly the stars and stripes over America. A few wrong turns in the war, and we could have been flying some other banner on our flagpoles.
I guess he also took those bullets to give people the right to burn it. The thought of that raises my blood pressure.
Even if I disagree with the policies of the U.S., this is my home, and that flag is my flag.
I was driving down the road last week and saw a car with a flag with a sticker that read, “Biden is not my president.”
There are folks out there who argue over whether the president before last was an American citizen. Today, we are now half a year into the continuing argument as to whether or not the 2020 election was a sham.
I’m sure that dispute will continue for some time to come. But, until there is a change, the person occupying the office is the president.
We had a debate over the governorship of Georgia after the 1946 election. After the general election, Gene Talmadge, the governor-elect, died. His friends, knowing he was sick, organized a write-in campaign for his son, Herman. The voters included a number of folks buried in the city cemetery in the Talmadge home of McRae, Georgia.
Conveniently, they voted in alphabetical order.
The incumbent governor, Ellis Arnall of Newnan, declared that he would remain as governor until the matter was settled.
M.E. Thompson, who had just been elected as the state’s first lieutenant governor, said he was the rightful holder of the vacant office, but would wait until the legislature certified the results.
Both the state House and Senate were full of Talmadge loyalists, and after a day of debate, they decided that Herman was the second highest vote getter and was now governor. They brought him into the House chamber in the wee hours of the next morning and swore him in.
The Talmadge crew was elated. They took Arnall’s desk and moved him out into the hall. Thompson immediately began a legal fight in the courts.
Herman was no dummy and told his staff not to get too comfortable in the governor’s office.
In March of 1947, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the general assembly didn’t follow the Constitution and that Thompson should be governor until the next general election in November, 1948.
Herman and his crew left peacefully. He would return in 1948 when he received 97.5% of the vote in the general election.
All this shows that political fussin’ and feudin’ is nothing new. I guess the only constant is that the stars and stripes managed to fly over the capitol regardless of who was — or thought they were — governor. As for the state flag below it, that’s a story for another day.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com.