Numerous polls have been taken across the United States asking if the flag should be protected from desecration. The overwhelming answer has been "yes." No polls are taken asking if the Constitution should be amended to eliminate our first amendment right to disagree with our government - which is what the proposed amend-ment would do.

I love the flag and this country it represents. But more than that I love and respect the Constitution under which this country was formed, and as a U.S. Navy veteran, I took an oath to support the Constitution, as did Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. There is a saying in the military that states, "I would die for your right to disagree with me."Some people say we should all feel a swelling in our hearts when we see the flag. I agree that we should, but I am not prepared to force people to respect it. History is filled with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes where people were forced to display and pay reverence to their flag. Hatch may be well intentioned with his amendment, or maybe he has been in Washington, D.C., so long that he feels comfortable with totalitarianism.

The flag represents all of the good and bad of this country. The Constitution is a document that was created to bring out all that is good in people. There is nothing bad about that document, only questionable conclusions made by Supreme Court justices over the course of 200 years.

Allowing one amendment to reduce the freedoms granted by another amendment would open a Pandora's box of government encroachments on our rights and freedoms. We as citizens of this great country must resist an amendment based purely on emotion from becoming a horrid reality.

If the majority of citizens love the flag, then instead of weakening our Constitution, I suggest we all proudly display our flag daily in front of our homes and businesses and recite the Pledge of Allegiance for all to hear. Desecration of the United States Constitution is truly the coward's path.

John Pickering

Salt Lake City