Thursday, July 11, 2002

This poignant story was spotted by Howie Purnick. It belongs in the pocket of all Americans so that they can read it often.
Tony Cucurullo

"The Pledge of Allegiance" - Senator John McCain
Subject: Sen. John McCain
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 NOVA 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."