On the Fourth of July, if you’re at Arlington National Cemetery, watch out for a decade-old law.
One of the most common sights on Independence Day—waving the flag of the United States—is banned on cemetery grounds.
According to the Washington Post, the 2006 law that is intended to block anti-military protests at the cemetery also bans the display of most flags—including the American one.
“It’s an all-or-nothing proposition . . . Even if the results in practice may feel unjust,” Lee Rowland, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the newspaper. At the time, the ACLU said the law—which drew bipartisan support—violated the First Amendment.
Some circumstances allow for having an American flag, such as if the flag is part of a funeral, service, or ceremony.
The 2006 law makes it “unlawful” in many other circumstances to show “any placard, banner, flag, or similar device,” the Post reported.
Earl Granville, a retired Army staff sergeant, was stunned when he heard about the obscure law. He told the Post: “There’s absolutely, positively nothing disrespectful whatsoever about carrying the colors to the cemetery where our fallen armed forces are buried.”
According to the Daily Caller, violating the law can bring up to a year in jail.
“If someone is in there with the colors in a respectful way, or paying homage in a respectful way, then they should allow it,” Paul Rieckhoff, who is the founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the Caller.