There is a very disturbing new trend on social media using the hashtag #EricSheppardChallenge that was meant to protest racism in America through the desecration of our American flag. Well,it is backfiring and you can help!

The trend started when Eric Sheppard showed up at an anti-flag protest on Valdosta State University campus about two weeks ago and was seen stomping on the American flag before Air Force Veteran Michelle Manhart grabbed it off the floor.  (See Washington Post article). Then on Tuesday, a backpack was found, believed to have belonged to Eric Sheppard, which contained a weapon. It is a felony to bring a weapon onto the school campus so Eric Sheppard has been on the run from police since then. Well, some bright person decided to start this flag desecration challenge in support of Eric Sheppard. Even some celebrities got in on the act...well, it was Lil' Wayne so I don't know if you would classify that as a celebrity.

Now, before you get all worked up about freedom of speech, let's not forget how you came to have that First Amendment right. And, yes I know, they have the freedom to make up whatever hashtag they want but that fact is they are still being disrespectful and, in my humble opinion, if you hate America so much, I'm sure there are lots of other places you could live!

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I couldn't have said it better:

I come from a family that has fought to defend our freedoms for more generations than I can count. I come from a Gold Star Family. I was able to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the age of two. I was taught what our flag symbolizes and how to respect and care for it at the age of five. The current social media "viral challenge" encouraging people to disrespect the flag is ignorant. MLK and Ghandi had it right. Mr. Sheppard does not.

You want to see change in this country? Me too. I'm disappointed by racism, homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, hunger, our low literacy rates, the fact that we pay our sports stars more money than we pay those educating the next generation, our crumbling infrastructure, the rate at which we're poisoning our environment, investments in unsustainable energy... would you like me to go on?

But I only have control over my own actions, and if I inspire anyone else then let me inspire them to move in the right direction. Let me inspire respect rather than disrespect. Let me inspire love rather than hate.


"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

So, if you see this on any social media sites, here is my recommendation...ignore the bad behavior and it will go away, continue to spotlight it and they will continue to do it as long as there are cameras in their faces.

On the other hand, many people have started their own challenge so I'm going to start mine. #FlyTheAmericanFlagProudly! I challenge you to put the American Flag on your front porch and fly it proudly until this disrespectful trend ends.