A True Patriot

From a speech made by Capt. John S. McCain, US, (Ret) who
represents Arizona in the U.S. Senate:

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 in1967

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 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 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."