Colleges across the country panicked when Donald Trump was elected. Student protest, especially at the most left-leaning liberal arts institutions was a given, and schools were quick to put measures in place to help ease liberal anxiety.
Hampshire College was no exception. When students there pulled down the U.S. flag and burned it, the school decided it would stop flying the flag. Public reaction to that decision was swift, and has been growing into more than Hampshire bargained for.
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After news of the absurdity on campus broke nationally, 1,000 military descended on Amherst, MA for one hell of a patriotic protest. Much to Hampshire College’s chagrin, they brought flags. Lots of flags.
The point of the protest is simple. The very freedoms that allow the students to burn their country’s flag are freedoms that the flag itself represents. Without that flag, and the country it represents, their incivility might be deemed criminal or treasonous.
The vets were also there to show just how those freedoms are won. Without their sacrifices, we would have no flag to burn.
“They took down my flag, they have a right to that, I’m here to defend their right to do that but I want them to understand how bad that hurts me,” veteran Jerry Maguire said.
Others, like David Soucy who was wounded serving in Iraq, felt a bit more defiant: “There’s no way I’ll let anyone take down the flag, no way. It means a lot to me and my brothers.”
The gathering was mostly peaceful. One counter-protestor showed up and sat down in the middle of the veterans, making obscene gestures.
There were even some politicians that got into the fray. Springfield, MA Mayor Domenic Sarno was there to support the vets. “For the students here and the president and board of trustees have risen from what the veterans sacrificed, this flag [sic] and not to fly the flag on this campus if you were in some other countries around the world it would be handled very, very differently,” he said.
As of now, Hampshire College has not put its flag back up.