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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flag Pins and True Patriotism

I heard the nice lady ask Sen. Obama at the Philadelphia debate last night why he doesn’t wear a flag pin while running for President.

But what does that really mean when current leaders wear flag pins yet put our veterans on repeated tours in Iraq, and then put them in a rundown Walter Reed hospital with rats running down the halls, and oversee a system that cuts their benefits if they become a sole survivor?

A military ‘sole survivor’ is a family that has already lost brothers or sisters in Iraq, so if a brother is killed the last surviving brother or sister (or son or daughter) is forced to leave the service and Iraq. But then our government cuts their benefits. The sole survivor, who has been serving in Iraq, loses his or her education benefits and medical benefits under the current system.

The same leaders who wear flag pins and tout their support for our troops yet leave in place a system that cuts a service member’s benefits when they become a military ‘sole survivor’ is not my idea of true American leadership -- or respect for the pin they are wearing.

So how does wearing a flag pin signify true leadership and support of American families when your tax policies favor only the top 2% of Americans and no-bid contracts for your vice-presidents former company? I’d rather a President wear no flag and support the other 98% of us.

Does a President who always wears a flag pin and allows this system to unfairly treat the veterans risking their lives for all Americans show real values and leadership? How does that pin show real support for our troops when actions are otherwise? Does taking us into an unplanned and mismanaged war show patriotism because the President appointed people like Paul Bremer with no experience in Iraq while wearing a flag on his lapel?

Take it a step further, for instance Kenya. How does a leader wearing a Kenya national flag on his lapel --who instigates violent attacks, and even killing by his supporters -- show true patriotism for that country? How does a flag pin-wearing Zimbabwe President who won’t give up power after 28 years and refuses to release poll results show patriotism and respect for their people?

I would prefer a President who didn't wear a pin who did the right thing versus a President who wears the pin and does the wrong thing. It's even worse to make the flag associated with leadership arrogance, mistakes and blunders.

People need to look for true symbols of patriotism, which are thoughtful, meaningful Actions that take care of the bottom 98% instead of the top. Otherwise, wearing the flag pin is just a charade and doesn’t show real respect for the flag they are wearing.

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