Controversy swirls around photo of flag-cradled baby

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(CNN) -- It's a striking image: a new baby cradled in the American flag, held by a Navy sailor whose face we can't see.

But is it a patriotic photograph or desecration of the American flag?

Scroll down to take our poll below.

Navy veteran Vanessa Hicks, a Virginia Beach photographer whose website is filled with sweet images of babies and their parents, shot the picture of the sailor and his baby and posted it to her Facebook page.

"I do believe that this picture right here shows what it means to be an American," Hicks told CNN affiliate WTKR."That flag, the uniform, that baby -- exactly what every service member is out there fighting."

Not everyone agreed with Hicks, herself a Navy wife whose husband is deployed.

A Facebook page titled "You call yourself a photographer?" posted her photo and said that the use of the flag as a prop was a desecration -- and a bad picture.

The U.S. Flag Code does state that 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," according to a Congressional Research Service report (PDF).

Nor should it be "used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything."

The threatening private messages, which she has reported to Facebook, saddened her. But she decided to keep posting the picture and to take pictures of other members of the military who request the same picture with their babies and the flag.

Most people posting to the critical Facebook page disagree with the criticism of the picture. Wrote one poster, "I am a veteran and find this picture beautiful. Clearly the military member loves his country and baby."

"The photo is making a point," another photo fan posted. "The flag represents our republic, the republic is supporting our future. There is nothing disrespectful about this use of our flag. It is beautiful."

Baby cradled in flag from Vanessa Hicks Photography Facebook page

Baby cradled in flag from Vanessa Hicks Photography Facebook page

6 comments

  • vietvet1970

    I’m a Vietnam vet, when I came home in 1970 processing through San Francisco I saw the flag on the ground used as a rug. It is a right of anyone to do what they please with the flag as a form of protest or to be revered . This is one of the best images of the flag I have seen. Question–are the complainers veterans? Probably not

  • Letha Garvin

    Was the flag made in China with the China tag? How much more desecrated of America is that? Also China women are coming to California and having babies in America. Chinese are buying up America, no complaints. I have seen it around shoulders of Olympic Game winners walk, fall, sweat, blow nose and etc. at lots of games, no complaints from anyone, really. My uncle served 21 years, my dad, my brother in Korea, my husband air force. I know people have and are dying for that flag, but people are living and working for that flag. The parents of the baby have and are fighting for America . I LOVE THE BABY IN THE FLAG AND GOD BLESS THE PARENTS AND BABY AND AMERICA.

  • sdru1

    I have mixed emotions about this. Really the only thing that should be set on top of the flag is the medal of honor. On the other hand how does one really show they bleed red white and blue. Right or wrong it seems that they had all the best intentions.

  • Robert Wilson

    I am a professional Photographer, and I’m also a Navy Vetran…. I love the portrait, I hope she comes up with more beautiful flab/babt shot’s

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