Unbeknownst to those poor souls who had not yet had the opportunity to observe their routine, legendary magicians Penn Jillette and Raymond Joseph Teller (known as Penn & Teller) often perform a special trick for their audience that seemingly involves burning the American flag.
It was no doubt a controversial trick — but hidden behind the smoke and mirrors lay a paramount lesson about Old Glory’s true meaning.
“Do we really burn a flag in that trick?” Penn asked in a column published Friday on CNN, referencing the ambiguous nature of the illusion. “Do we symbolically burn the flag? Or do we vanish the flag in a patriotic flash of fireworks?”
Watch the trick in full below and find out for yourself:
Still not sure whether they actually burned the flag?
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Penn wrote in his column. “The flag burning trick is a celebration of American freedom any way you look at it.”
Because, as Penn highlighted, without the freedoms afforded to it by the Bill of Rights, the flag “means nothing” — but “with that freedom, with our Bill of Rights, it’s the greatest symbol on earth.”
“It’s magic,” he added.
Bingo. It is not the flag itself that carries value but rather the freedoms it represents, including the freedom to burn it. And incidentally, America’s most cherished warriors and heroes agreed with this message.
“Many veterans and other patriots told us after the show it was their favorite magic trick,” Penn explained. “We didn’t kid ourselves; carny trash like Penn & Teller don’t deserve that kind of reaction. These people were cheering freedom.”
Specifically, they were cheering the most profound freedom in human history — a freedom granted to them, to us and to Penn & Teller courtesy a wonderful centuries-old document known as the Bill of Rights.
“I sure hope no one misunderstands our simple message, because I promise you that although many other Americans love this country as much as I do — no one loves it more,” Penn concluded. “America has always been great.”
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