Baby and flag photo sparks hateful backlash against photographer

Some things absolutely make you proud for having served and truly embody that sense of sacrifice and commitment to future generations. I found that emotion captured in a photo that amazingly to me — and perhaps to you — came under vicious attack.

As reported by Fox News, “a Virginia photographer triggered a harsh backlash on Facebook after she posted a picture of a U.S. sailor holding his newborn child in an American flag. The photo was taken by Vanessa Hicks, who served in the Navy and whose husband is currently deployed. But some people did not see it as patriotic. They viewed it as a disrespectful use of the American flag.”

“A Facebook page called You Call Yourself a Photographer? shared the picture and wrote, “The flag is not a prop. I repeat: THE FLAG IS NOT A PROP. To use the American flag in such a way is disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting, and against the U.S. Flag Code.” The person also called the sailor “disgusting” for posing with his child in this manner and said the picture dishonors U.S. soldiers who have died. Several similar comments followed, with some calling for Hicks to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

I personally can’t think of any better representation of what it means to serve this country in uniform than this picture. Those of us who have taken the oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same” do so for our nation’s children so they will have a peaceful world and a security that enables them to enjoy the blessings of liberty and freedom this Republic affords.

No the flag is not a prop. When our Olympic athletes wrap the flag around themselves – like those hockey players did after the 1980 triumphant “miracle on ice” – it is a symbol of pride.

Capturing a sailor with his newborn wrapped in the American flag is just about as good as it gets. This photo depicts why we warriors are willing to make the “last full measure of devotion.” Anyone not seeing the simplicity, patriotism and love in this photo, well, they have their head up their “fourth point of contact.”

This shameful behavior displayed towards Ms. Hicks, a former sailor whose husband is deployed, is despicable.

“The person also called the sailor “disgusting” for posing with his child in this manner and said the picture dishonors U.S. soldiers who have died. Several similar comments followed, with some calling for Hicks to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

In a “Fox and Friends” exclusive, Hicks responded to the harsh criticism, saying she felt like “curling up in a ball” and crying after these comments. “I got messages saying ‘go kill yourself,’ that you don’t deserve to be a veteran, that your husband should be ashamed of himself and attacks on the service member holding that baby as well,” said Hicks. But she said she chose to keep the photo up in order to take a stand against what she sees as cyber-bullying. “I have two young daughters and I would not want them to back down to any type of bully. So I decided to take a stand because I believed in the photo. I did not feel that I had done anything wrong. I felt that this photo represents what every military member, past, present and future, fights for,” she said.” I commend Ms. Hicks for not backing down, her own children will remember this moment wen she did not cower but instead stood strong, “like a rock.”

This episode reminds me of the ridiculous criticism levied against me because I went scuba diving with disabled veterans and we planted an American flag with disabled veterans to a depth of about 80 feet. We went down on to a sunken wreck off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida and took a picture gathered round the flag which flew strong in the ocean current. If we can skydive with the American flag from the heights above — we can also dive with our symbol of exceptionalism and courage to the ocean depths, especially those of us who have stood upon freedom’s ramparts.


The beauty of the Internet is that it allows us to share stories and information — to be connected. The sad thing about the Internet is that it allows cowards to say really hurtful and stupid things with no consequences. But for the courageous, they press on!

This picture is phenomenal and should become a lasting reminder of why our men and women take the oath and serve — for those little ones, who just may one day grow up and accept the call to arms as well. To the jackass who started the disgusting Facebook page, just know your freedom of speech to say dumb stuff is made possible by people like Vanessa Hicks, her husband, the sailor in the photo, and in the future, perhaps the little baby, an American baby, being cradled in our national symbol.

God bless you Vanessa, your family, and your continued service and sacrifice to our beloved Constitutional Republic, these great United States of America.

Steadfast and Loyal.


  1. Although the photo is offensive to me (I can read the U.S. Flag Code), attacking those involved solves nothing. They should instead be educated that this is not the proper use of that symbol.

      • Depends… I once saw an olympic wrestler jumping up and down with joy immediately after winning… his coach and crew came running out to join him . One of his team came carrying an open flag and draped it over the wrestler’s shoulders while he was still jumping up and down.
        In his excitement, the wrestler took the flag off and started frantically waving it… he then threw it on the ground, like he was spiking a football.
        All the while, the wrestler was still jumping up and down, except now he was jumping up and down on the flag he had just thrown on the floor.

        This whole incident only took a couple of seconds and lasted less time than you probably took to read about it.
        But needless to say, I have mixed feelings about athletes and the flag.
        I remember watching that and while I was aware the wrestler had no idea what he was doing because he was lost in the moment, all I could think was… “holy cr#p! he’s jumping up and down on the flag!”

      • Brendan answers all question posed to me. I think he thinks he’s me. I’m not thrilled with athletes draping themselves in the flag. It’s not a bathrobe.

  2. The flag is neither touching the ground, nor is it being cut or damaged, so I’m not bothered by it.
    While it is being handled improperly, it was clearly not done with malice.
    I suspect the sailor did not realize he was being disrespectful… and since, as I stated, it does not appear to have been desecrated by being damaged or touching the ground… I don’t see this minor unintentional mishandling as being a big deal.
    The sailor’s heart was in the right place… but the sailor does need a lesson on flag protocol.

    • why?! The children used to be the entire reason for protecting the country (i.e the ‘flag’) until our fascist government declared them to be a venereal disease and a blight upon the Earth.

    • I beg to differ. He is not being disrespectful. I am sorry you fail to see the story in the symbolism this picture shows. Life is a little darker for you for that reason.

      • You completely missed my point and you also clearly do not know anything avout prper flag protocols.
        I am not vothered vy the picture because, as I said previously, it seems obvious that the sailor had the right intentions and was unaware he was being disrespectful.

      • I figure I know as much about flag protocols as you do about spelling. However I fail to make life revolve around flag protocol. It has its place but to me that place is not here.

      • I can correct the tiny typos from my phone’s keyboard.
        Perhaps you can educate yourself about the proper protocols for respecting our flag.
        My life revolves around flag protocol as much as yours does about pointing out typos.
        Go ask one of the men in your family who served in the military if following flag protocols is as petty as you think it is.

  3. I didn’t see half the backlash when the animals in Ferguson were burning and destroying our flag after that punk got capped. This woman obviously doesn’t mean disrespect to our flag. Anyone offended needs to find something better to be offended about. This is pathetic. Poor woman.

  4. Since living in the States I have seen more disrespect to our flag from half the people in Washington DC, government schools and progressive terrorists like Bill Ayers.

    This family fought for our freedom, and still does. If people are so hateful because they proudly hold their newborn in a flag, I truly weep for my country and all of those who have died defending her.

    God bless this family and all our troops.

  5. I loved it – It shows the soldier’s two loyalties: to his flag and his family. There is no disrespect in that, the flag was only used temporarily for the photo and not burned, stomped on, spit on or otherwise treated in a ugly manner.

  6. Proper use of a flag? Probably not. But there is no disrespect shown to the American flag by placing a baby on it. The people creating the hateful backlash demonstrate their true colors…it’s just a baby. Even if it’s not a proper use, I’d rather see the flag used as a manger of sorts rather than being desecrated.

  7. I, for one, loved this photo! I’m speaking as a proud American & as a veteran from a family of veterans.

    Old Glory was undamaged & unsoiled and allowed a newborn to make his first mark as a Patriot — what a WONDERFUL way for a young life to start! He may yet grow up to enlist and serve OR even attend one of the military academies and serve our nation well — I’m not saying the photo would cause it, but it would be part of his life experiences that could lead this young boy to a life of service to our nation.

    I wonder how many of the knee-jerk complainers also take issue with one of our Olympic athletes when they win a gold medal then drape Old Glory over their shoulders as they take to the medal stand? It is a patriotic moment when the athlete shares the medal with the rest of the USA. Very positive!

    How many myriad portraits have we seen of our troops, all decked out in their dress uniforms, photographed with Old Glory behind them? For those who actually inferred the flag cradling the newborn was a “prop” — that makes the flags used in ALL those portraits “props” as well…

    You want to talk props? How many of you remember the staged flag rescue & crocodile tears when President Clinton went to the military cemetery near the site of the D-Day invasion for the anniversary of that harrowing military campaign? There were tiny flags set out on each grave that day to commemorate the invasion. Coincidentally, next to where Clinton was standing for one of his countless photo-ops, one of the tiny flags (the ONLY such flag out of the ubiquitous flags so displayed) that laid next to a grave at first glance, appeared to have fallen — but it laid there so neatly, so perfectly smoothed over, without any wrinkles or the slightest sign of disarray, looking to the observant to have been specifically planted there to create a false narrative. Almost on cue, Clinton dropped down & righted the flag then brushed away a single tear (Reminiscent of the Native American chief in those old public-service ads who shed tears for the pollution — except the chief was believable!) — talk about spin kabuki! That poor little flag was a REAL prop, used to cynically manipulate We, the People (or at least the gullible Clintonistas).

    Old Glory is draped over the coffins of our military heroes when they pay the ultimate price for their service to the USA — a sad sight to see, whether @ Arlington or another military cemetery, a civilian cemetery or on the tarmac as the heroes are brought home. Old Glory honors them and their life of service.

    T4he photographer is also a patriot who served in the US Navy and her husband is deployed — to attack her, her family and her profession is just horrible.

    Now we have a newborn, the son of a proud US Sailor who wanted to show how important the USA is to him while also sharing his love and joy in his young son — intermingling both in a photo that captures the essence of proud patriotism & proud parenthood from the proud papa. This should have been viewed for the beauty this was. Instead, people got ugly.

    I can’t help but wonder two things:

    1) How many of the complainers served in the military — could the lion’s share have never served, never understood the special honor extended to both newborn & Old Glory?

    2) Perhaps this is really a stalking horse, with the real issue/agenda is that the baby was wrapped in a “jingoistic, non-inclusive, symbol of racist oppression and world conquest” — so how “dare” this poor child be so “abused” or “wickedly” used in this “vile” way? Building off that, maybe there would not have been a backlash if some other flag was used: Mexican? Cuban? North Korean, Black flag used by islamofascist radical/terrorists?

    I wish that I had such a photo taken of me as a newborn, being held by my proud papa in his Army uniform, while swaddling me in Old Glory — that would be the capper to all my own patriotic & military items, photos and such.

    Loving the Stars & Stripes Forever!!!

    Help Save the Sight of a Veteran’s Service Dog ::

  8. I see nothing wrong with that photo, all these idiots who are complaining are more than likely the same idiots who stand by and do nothing as protesters drag our flag on the ground, or deface it with graffiti, they stand behind the Supreme Court who said those type of actions are protected by the first amendment as an expression of free speech. So why are they so upset about this? I think this photo is beautiful.

    • The reason some people are upset about this is that it’s a violation of the Flag Code Section 8d and 8H. Section 8d states “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. ” The baby laying it it like a blanket would qualify as bedding. That same section says ” It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.” The flag is clearly in folds and not falling free. Secondly, Section 8h states “The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.” He is clearly holding his baby in the flag.
      I agree that’s it’s a nice picture and i think this is a case of being
      unaware of the flag code. I will also say that the person who said it
      was despicable went overboard. They should have tried to inform rather than attack. Just because the picture is of a cute baby being held by a sailor does not discount that it’s a violation of the Flag Code. Ask yourself this: Would you feel the same about it if it were a hippy holding the flag? What about if it was a puppy or kitten instead of a baby? it would be wrong then and it’s an inappropriate use of the flag now. BTW, i dare someone to mistreat the flag in front of me in front of me. I’d unload a world of hurt on them.

      • When the code speaks of , “nor up in folds” does that mean the flag is being disrespected when the flag that drapes a fallen soldiers casket is folded up and presented to the next of kin?
        I don’t think so. Neither does anyone else.

      • They covered caskets in the flag code:
        (n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

        So technically, the photo is an improper use of the flag since it’s being bunched up and used to carry something. That’s cut and dried, no real arguments to be made about it. The issue is that people used that as a reason to heap abuse on someone over a trivial violation of an unenforceable section of US law.

      • The flag code tells how to properly fold the flag, which is done at such ceremonies so your example is invalid. What up in folds means is exactly what the sailor is doing. It says bundled or bunched up which is what is being done.

      • No I wouldn’t feel the same if it was a puppy or kitten. Nor does that logic fly. The purpose of the flag code is to make sure the flag is given due respect. No one can argue the flag is not being respected. Those who are so law oriented that they don’t feel a sense of pride viewing this picture is missing the point. What’s more important the letter of the law or the spirit of the law? Have a blessed day.

      • My point has been all along that if this is tolerated then other people will do it. Eventually what will happen is some hippy holding a puppy or kitten or snake or whatever will do it and then everyone will think that the flag is being used improperly. Just because it’s a cute baby and just because it’s a sailor doing the holding does NOT discount that it’s an improper use of the flag.

  9. It takes a really special breed of IDIOT to find this photo offensive and the KING OF ALL IDIOTS to be hateful towards the photographer. Especially during a time when major universities are outlawing the US flag and declaring babies to be a venereal disease…

  10. The American flag flies atop our White House and obama disrespects it every day.
    Now THAT is what is called “despicable”.

  11. What you wrote here exactly expresses my thoughts and feelings. I still can’t understand why the picture came into question.

  12. There’s no excuse for hateful comments toward the sailor or the photographer, but where is the U.S. Flag Code in this discussion?

    §176. Respect for flag
    (d) The flag should never be used as wearing
    apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back,
    nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.
    (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

    • Oh you are right there. But under the current circumstances and in this particular case we need an image like this. Even those who wrote this code would agree if they could see the condition our beautiful nation is in.

    • It’s clearly an inappropriate use of the flag according to the code. But, I’m a lot more concerned with people’s cruel behavior than a violation of an unenforceable law.

  13. I’m sure whoever wrote the US Flag Code would be just as endeared to this photo as everyone else. Besides, the “Code” also allows the President the authority to modify the rules governing the flag so all we have to see is Obama giving his approval for the flag being used in this manner and it won’t violate the code. Will we though? Highly doubtful.

  14. It saddens me that anyone would criticize this photo of a military father cradling his newborn in the flag he has sworn to serve and protect. He knows how lucky he is to have survived his duties away from home and to have returned home to hold his new child. The Flag and the child symbolize for him all that he holds dear, and I commend him and the photographer for sharing this photo.

  15. I think its a beautiful picture and would much rather see that than idiots burning or trampling on it… This to me shows the father is proud of his service so much he wants to protect his daughter with our symbol of freedom… something he has fought for as many other of our troops…

  16. It’s not like they are standing on it or wearing it as clothes. It’s cradling the future. How very appropriate.

  17. From this veteran’s perspective, I think it’s a beautiful photo of symbolism. I doubt that the people spreading all the hate actually love this country and/or that they ever offered their service to this country. Yes, if you want to be technical, it is in violation of the code, however, it represents EXACTLY why I chose to serve in the military.


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