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A patriotic image, or a desecration of the flag? Photographer bullied on Facebook after posting this photo

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VIRGINIA (WITI) — A patriotic image, or a desecration of the American flag? That’s the question some on Facebook have about a photo by Vanessa Hicks, a Virginia Beach photographer and Navy veteran. The photo shows a baby being held up by an American flag.

FOX6’s sister station WTKR in Virginia talked with the photographer.

“I do believe that ths picture shows what it means to be an American. That flag, the uniform, that baby — exactly what every service member is out there fighting for,” Hicks said.

Hicks tells WTKR within hours of posting the photo to her photography Facebook page, she became the target of a Facebook cyberbully. The Facebook page “You Call Yourself a Photographer” shared Hicks’ photo — calling it disgusting and claiming Hicks desecrated the American flag.

“I was heartbroken. I was in shock,” Hicks said.

And it didn’t stop there.

I was starting to get the private messages and them going on my page and commenting on every picture that I have up there,” Hicks told WTKR.

Hicks says she tried reporting the “You Call Yourself a Photographer” page to Facebook, along with the private messages, but she says Facebook refused to take the page down.

“A day of crying, a day of second guessing myself as a photographer as a professional, as a person, as an American, as a veteran,” Hicks said.

Hicks is a Navy veteran, having served for four years. She now serves as a Navy wife and mom. Her husband is currently deployed.

“When I look at this picture, I see a man who has served six years in our Navy, the mother of this child is prior Army. I hope that other people want this pose and I will absolutely do it and share it proudly,” Hicks said.


  • sher cares

    Cannot imagine anything more patriotic than laying the most precious person in your world in the flag of the uUnited States of America. Your photo will likely become a symbol of love of country. Thanks to you and your husband for your service.

  • Juanita Bellerose

    I think the picture is a perfect statement of what it means to be American; born into this cradle of freedom!

  • Jared H

    Vanessa – Brilliant. I wish I had thought of this for my babies. Good for you for making the artistic decision and then standing by it. Stay strong!
    I think anyone who wears this uniform (as I do) or any other, past or present, gets a little leeway in the flag code, certainly more than the athletes who drape it about their bodies without negative repercussion. If you’ve never served in uniform or raised your hand to put your life on the line for our way of life, your negative opinion in this case is irrelevant. Sorry, not sorry, you poked the bear.

  • Peter Barclay

    Ok haters, LISTEN UP! The US Flag Code is part of federal law. Yes. HOWEVER and this is a HUGE however. It is nothing more than a “guideline”. It is perfectly legal to burn the flag in effigy. The right to freedom of speech has a priority OVER the flag code. There are priority of rights. Also, I don’t care if the person holding the flag is active duty and in uniform. Yes, military members don’t have the same protections to rights as civilians and even being late to work is a felony. Nice of you to notice now, when every other time you think we’re just sacrificing weekends and stuff. That aside, the rights of each and every member are to be respected as equal to civilians “whenever possible”. This is not an emergency situation. This is not some battle field where it’s important for people to know which side you are on or any other type of situation. It would be different if this member was doing this “casually” and repeatedly. If they were walking around in uniform using it as a superman cape, there would be an issue. This is a “personal, individual, statement of love” and protected under the first amendment and free speech. If anything, the nasty comments, are the desecration and defamation of the rights of a service member! You are complaining that a service member is using their freedom of speech when THEY are the ones who have been the one to sacrifice for it. It is a blatantly obvious statement of love for both their country and the child. That the military member is there to protect the country because the country is their to protect their child. That statement speaking volumes more than I have room to put into words. And YOU want to whine about that person using their free speech to say this? I’ll respect your right to say whatever nasty thing you want but you warrant no respect for what you say!

  • Marian Stevens

    I love it ! I thank it is the most beautiful way of saying that al children and adults should fill that they are held safe in the flag that so many have died for . This should tell Mis Obama what is flag means and that it is important to all true Americans and most of all to the wife of and the president of the U.S.A! !!

  • Chromeb Stest

    Looks like the critical page (You Call Yourself a Photographer) has disappeared from Facebook, at least for now.

    Glad to see Mrs. Hicks, the Clevengers, their baby, and the colors of the U.S. flag don’t run!

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