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Pledge of Allegiance - John McCain

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In light of the recent appeals court ruling in California, with respect

to the Pledge of Allegiance, the following recollection from Senator

John McCain is very appropriate:

"The Pledge of Allegiance" - by Senator John McCain

As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war

during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA

kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. In 1971 the

NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as

many as 30 to 40 men to a room.

This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result

of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POWs

10,000 miles from home.

One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike

Christian.

Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair

of shoes until he was 13 years old.

At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going

to Officer Training School Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was

shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of

the opportunities this country and our military provide for people who

want to work and want to succeed.

As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some

prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were

handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing.

Mike got himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months,

he created an American flag and sewed on the inside of his shirt.

Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's

shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of

our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed

the most important and meaningful event.

One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and

discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it.

That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the

benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple

of hours. Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We

cleaned him up as well as we could.

The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we

slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room.

As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the

excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting

there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another

shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was

sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had

received, making another American flag. He was not making the flag

because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag

because he knew how important it was to us to be able to Pledge our

allegiance to our flag and country.

So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget

the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build

our nation and promote freedom around the world.

You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to

the republic for which it stands, one nation

under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

 
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