A FedEx worker who gained national attention for saving an American flag from being burned has been informed he will not be fired for taking a break from his job to do the patriotic deed.
According to a Twitter post by a FedEx representative, the employee's job is safe. "We have reviewed the matter in Iowa City involving driver Matt Uhrin," the tweet explained. "He remains a FedEx employee & we have no plans to change his status."
Uhrin, while making deliveries for FedEx in Iowa City, Iowa, on Jan. 26, saw a group of protesters who were burning an American flag, notes an opinion article on Independent Journal Review.
He grabbed a fire extinguisher from his delivery truck and put out the flames. The scene was captured on video and quickly went viral on social media.
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“Probably every one of them has a relative at one point or another that died for that,” said an eyewitness to the event, referencing the flag. “That’s not free speech. Too many people have died for it."
Two of the flag-burners were fined $625 each because they did not have a permit to protest.
There is no law against flag burning in the U.S. "The Supreme Court of the United States in its decision from 1969 has ruled that the burning of the flag is protected by the First Amendment," explains Black's Law Dictionary. "However, the person who burnt the flag can be found guilty of a misdemeanor for starting a fire without a permit."
Before the 1969 ruling, burning the flag was illegal. Black's Law Dictionary summarizes the history of the law and flag burning.
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The first U.S. Supreme Court ruling on flag desecration was passed in 1907 in Halter vs. Nebraska case. Most early flag desecration statutes prohibited burning a flag or any other ways of disrespecting the flag. Later, in 1968, Congress responded to the burning of the American flag in the Central Park as the protest against the Vietnam War by passing the Federal Flag Desecration Law. This law prohibited any display of “contempt” directed against the flag. Thus, burning of the American flag had been illegal until 1969 when the Supreme Court ruled the decision to award the First Amendment protection to the burning of the flag.
Ironically, according to the U.S. Flag Code, burning the flag is an approved ways to destroy a worn or torn flag.