One Nation Under God: Musings from Vietnam

One Nation Under God: Musings from Vietnam

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Today is the 237th Birthday of our Flag, our Stars and Stripes Forever.  Long Live Our Flag!

In the coming days before the 4th of July I would like you to contemplate for a moment the words of those of us who pledged our allegiance, our honor to our flag and our country.   The impact of what it means to be in the military is not only for those in uniform, but also for scholars who rose each day to make that pledge before class began.  There are those Americans who are opposed to having the Pledge mandatory in our schools and/or other public places. But for your grandfather and all family members, I believe we stand on the other side of this debate.  Not because it is “required” or “mandatory”, but because we need to be reminded every day we live in this country what Americans have sacrificed so we can live like we do since we declared ourselves an independent  government in 1776.  The Pledge …..31 of the most important words we need to remember…because of those in and out of uniform who sacrificed their lives so that we could continue to say them.   The story below comes from a period of time when my grandpa (for whom the ideas for this blog came) was serving in Vietnam and John McCain had become a prisoner of war.  This is one example, one of the many reasons I believe it important to continue saying the Pledge so that we let the world know how important the word freedom is in our lives.  And, yes, as my grandpa says, “Thank you God for giving me the opportunity to say them to my family.”  Thank you Grandpa B!

“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 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 POW’s 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.”

PASS THIS ON… And on… And on!

Thanks to my grandpa for inspiring this blog article and sending the speech to his children and grandchildren.

Read full document here of John McCain’s Speech.

Photo Credit Bill & Vicki T