'The Pledge of Allegiance' - by Senator John McCain
A TRUE STORY
'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
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.
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.
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, indivisable,
with liberty and justice for all"