A photo of an infant wrapped in an American flag resulted in online backlash on Facebook this week.
Vanessa Hicks, a professional photographer and Navy veteran, had no idea that her photograph posted on Monday would be controversial. The photo featured newborn Landon Clevenger swaddled in an American flag held by his father, who was dressed in his military uniform.
Her photo was shared on a Facebook page titled You Call Yourself a Photographer, where it was called "disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting, and against the U.S. Flag Code," according to ABC News.
The Federal Flag Code has guidelines for the treatment of the U.S. flag, including rules against letting the flag touch the ground, against it being worn as apparel, and against it being used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything, according to USFlag.org. The Supreme Court has found in the past that people are protected from punishments related to violations under the First Amendment.
"It was in their opinion I had disrespected our nation's flag," Hicks wrote on Facebook. "These people not only bashed the picture, but me, saying I should be ashamed of myself, my husband should be ashamed."
Hicks, whose husband is on active duty in the Navy, wrote that she knows what desecration of a flag is.
"It's when you pull into ports and you see protesters with our flag and have spray-painted horrible things on it. It's when you watch the news and you see other countries burning our flags," Hicks said on Facebook.
Once the photo went viral, Hicks received an influx of support from both civilian and military people, saying that they did not find the photo offensive.
"This photo is what I believe that the armed forces stand for, to keep us free for generations to come," Facebook user Paul Peckham wrote. "The flag is being used exactly how it was intended to be used, a symbol of freedom."
Hick’s Facebook page has received more than 30,000 likes on posts related to the photo. Since the photo went viral, Hicks has been inundated with requests for photo shoots, and plans to give 15 percent of all profits to the United Service Organization.