April 21, 2021

What Does a Flag Pin Mean?

Right after 9/11 flags popped up everywhere. They were a symbol of pride in our country. They were a rallying point for a nation. My boss came by and gave each of us flag pins to wear, and we all did so on a regular basis.

It wasn’t long, however, until people were trying to say something about people that wore or did not wear a simple pin. Evening News anchors were judged as either unbiased or biased depending on whether they wore a pin. Soon, people started associating the pin with a political party instead of support for the country.

In a nation that is polarized as ours is, it is not hard to see how it went this direction. Presidential candidate Barack Obama recently stopped wearing his pin:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he no longer wears an American flag lapel pin because it has become a substitute for “true patriotism” since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He commented on the pin in a television interview Wednesday and then again on Thursday at a campaign appearance in Independence, Iowa.

Noting the TV interview, he told the campaign crowd, “I said, you know what, I probably haven’t worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic.”

“My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That’s what we have to lead with is our values and our ideals.”

I have a problem with this logic on three levels.

Patriotism is a Matter of the Heart

Just as I’m not supposed to judge how patriotic you are, you should also not judge my patriotism (especially basing it on a lapel pin). I’m sorry, Senator Obama, but this reasoning that you provide seems like an excuse. This may be your real motive, but it seems much more plausible that you don’t want to be linked with the President’s policies. Perhaps you should define just who the people are that you think are unpatriotic and why and then we might know the real reason.

Would He Wear the Pin as President?

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a President without a flag pin, or some kind of patriotic symbolism. I can’t remember– I’m sure someone might come up with a picture, and I’ll gladly correct myself. The point being, we expect our Presidents and elected officials to be patriotic and show forth the country. I fully expect that if Obama would become President, when he took office in 2009 he would be wearing a flag lapel pin– and wouldn’t have a problem doing so.

Outside Reflects Inside

If Obama is truly patriotic, his actions, what he wears, and what he says would be totally in favor of the best for the country– and its current leadership. I have a problem with politicians that think that they have to drag leaders through the mud in order to get elected. Though I have no problems having protests and disagreeing with policies, there needs to be some kind of submission and decorum if the best for America is going to be achieved. Said differently, America cannot be all that it can be if we spend most of our time talking down the leadership.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has an editorial asking, What if Barack Obama told his wife he wouldn’t say “I love you” anymore? That’s a great question.

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6 thoughts on “What Does a Flag Pin Mean?

  1. I am flag pin illiterate! Never noticed them on the President, and it certainly never was something we adopted here in the mid-west, at least not in my circle of influence, lol, which doesn’t say much.

    This was eye-opening. You make some good points, and I’m definitely not one of Obama’s supporters, but at first read-through, I didn’t see anything wrong with his logic. Thanks for making me think twice.

    And next time the President is speaking, I’ll be taking notice of his lapel!

  2. It does seem like we as, a country, could accomplish more if we were all working together instead of against one another!
    As a side note, I caught just a few seconds of a 94-year old woman running for senator (not even sure what state)! I hope I have that much spunk at 94!

  3. I don’t know what it will take to make us less polarized, but I believe that would be in the best interest of the country. The biggest stumbling block to the whole thing would be the fact that people now have absolutes on either side. Absolutes are not bad (I have many of them myself) but they make it hard to compromise.

  4. “If Obama is truly patriotic, his actions, what he wears, and what he says would be totally in favor of the best for the country– and its current leadership.”

    Are you implying that Obama should fully support Bush and his policies?? That is the worst thing we could all do for this country. Blind faith and acceptance of leadership doesn’t accomplish anything good (think Nazi Germany, and any other dictatorship that managed to use propoganda to secure the faith and acceptance of the masses).

    “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”- Edward Abbey

  5. You make a good point, Musicguy, however, there’s a difference between attacking policies and attacking persons. I can show respect for a person I disagree with. I can honor the office and choose not to attack it.

    What I believe is that in this polarized culture we’ve gone from saying “Capitalism is the best policy” and “No, socialism the best policy” to saying “Capitalists are evil.” In the case of the current “debate” Bush is not wrong, he’s evil. That is not in the best interests of this country.

    I don’t have a problem challenging ideas. I also don’t have a problem making sure that a person is following the law. Before we go calling a person evil, however, it must be for evil acts rather than policy differences.

  6. Yeah, I know what you’ve mean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Homosexuals are evil.”

    I don’t think the debate has changed at all. As I recall, during the McCarthy era, communists were called evil. It just so happens that the tables have turned a bit, and the McCarthyites are the ones on the receiving end now. I also recall the repubs going after Clinton quite vehemently during the 2000 election cycle, not respecting the office, his policies, etc. Somehow I can’t see those who are complaining about the debate now were also complaining in my two instances. It seems that you’re doing more to protect your self interests (laws based on religion, president shrub) than worrying about the tone of the argument.

    When I see you and others defend someone or something who does NOT agree with you, I’ll be more receptive to your theory.

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