Salute the flagMost people who know me are aware of what a huge advocate of States' rights that I am. This is so true, in fact, that it has become known to those who are close to me that I do not, nor will I ever support any law or regulation which can be seen to impinge or interfere with the sovereignty of Tennessee, or for that matter with any other state. I am such a believer in States' rights that Aaron Harris once compared me to John C. Calhoun insofar as the issue of State sovereignty was concerned. We are, after all, a union of sovereign States, we are not merely a collection of administrative units, as some nations of the world tend to be.
As a result of that reality, I am of the firm belief that loyalty to one's State should always come first and foremost before loyalty to the organic United States. That's not to say that we should not have loyalty to the U.S., but I am a Tennessean, this is my home. California or New York or New England or Washington State are not my home. The affairs of those places are something I take a passing interest and fancy in, but I do not live there, so what happens in those other States is the concern of those who live and work in them.
As a whole, the States have collectively gotten away from exercising their sovereignty since Reconstruction, partly because of federal interference and New Deal-ism. So far have we gotten away from the principles of States' rights and the compact theory of government that any small step we can take to begin to infuse those notions back into the minds of the people at large, beginning with the very young, may help restore our State sovereignty in the decades and generations ahead.
I don't know if that was what was intended by State Representative Tom DuBois of Columbia when he introduced legislation to give Tennessee's flag its own official salute, but I think it is something that will encourage correct thinking about Tennessee's relationship to the federal government, or at least plant that little seed. If passed, this is what our children will be reciting:
Three white stars on a field of blue,
God keep them strong and ever true,
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the flag of Tennessee.
Now suppose one of the little children reciting that beautiful pledge grows up and 40 years later becomes Mr. Governor. I'd bet the ranch he or she will be less likely to allow the federal government to run roughshod over this State, or let any other entity do it either. Every State in the Union ought to have a salute, and every schoolchild shoud be made to recite that salute-before the pledge to the U.S. flag.