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Ex-Ald. Balcer to ask City Council for flag ordinance amid hubbub

Then Ald. James Balcer at the Chicago City Council meeting where the 2015 budget was approved. | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

Stand and be counted.

Former Ald. Jim Balcer, a longtime advocate for war veterans, is having a city ordinance proposed that would codify conduct expected while the national anthem is being played.

“I am so angry,” Balcer said.

“I’m furious sports arenas are being used by sports figures as podiums to disrespect the flag,” said Balcer, a U.S. Marine who quietly filed a proposal amending the city’s municipal code with the City Clerk’s office this week — which is expected to be introduced at the City Council meeting Wednesday.

To wit: Although the ordinance will have no teeth forcing anyone to stand with their right hand over their heart during the playing of the anthem, the proposed ordinance will include instructions mirroring the language of the federal law — which in 1931 officially designated the Star Spangled banner as our national anthem. “Federal law included instructions on what to do while the flag is being raised and the anthem played,” said a City Hall source.

“Look, people have died defending the flag and what it stands for,” said Balcer, who recalled that he fought “the desecration of our flag at an Art Institute exhibit in 1988.”

“The flag stands for everything good for the country, it embodies what is great about the nation.

“It covered my father-in-law’s coffin and the coffin of my mother who served in World War II. Not honoring the flag is a slap at anyone who fought to keep us safe at home. People fight to get into this country — not fight to leave it. The flag symbolizes our best; not our worst.”