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/ Source: TODAY
By Randee Dawn

A Virginia photographer and veteran posted a photo Sunday of her friend, also a Navy veteran, holding her newborn child cradled in an American flag.

While some viewers feel the picture is a potent metaphor, others have taken the photographer to task for disrespecting the flag.

Vanessa Hicks posted the photograph to her professional Facebook page on March 8 as part of a collection, and received generally positive feedback. But the next day another Facebook page, You Call Yourself a Photographer?, shared the image with a scathing caption that suggested she was disrespecting the flag.

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After a heated debate sparked between supporters and naysayers, Hicks said she was being harassed publicly and privately by fans of the other website. She wrote in a follow-up post Tuesday about the trouble, adding:

"I am very well aware of our U.S. Flag code. I also know exactly what desecration of a flag is ... It's when you watch the news and you see other countries burning our flags, and you are a young Quartermaster scared because you know you are just a few nautical miles from that exact country."

Sensitivity surrounding uses of the American flag can run high, but many are unaware of the official Flag Code. Violations of flag etiquette occur all the time, like at night without illumination or hung after they've been tattered and soiled.

In her post on Tuesday, Hicks noted that she chose not to take down the photo, despite the scrutiny. "I stood up for the picture," she said. "To me, that is what being an American is about."

What do you think of the photo? Is it an appropriate use of the American flag?

TODAY fans joined the conversation Thursday morning, adding important insights to the conversation:

Bill Isgoingtowin: "[T]hats what I call Made In USA!"Penny Eider: "That's is what he is fighting for."Sydnee Butler: "How is different from when Olympians wrap the flag around their body?"Vicki McKenney: "No, it's not ok, it is a violation of the rules of the flag but there are so many because people don't care about the rules. The don't respect the flag the way they are supposed. Yes, I love my flag and country. I want to show my pride in it but we aren't supposed to use it as plates and cups and clothes yet we do. I like this picture but it is still against the rules of the flag."

Follow Randee Dawn on Google+ and Twitter.

This article was originally published Mar. 12, 2015 at 7:12 a.m. ET.