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                                                       POW FLAG

 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 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 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 allegiance to our flag and our 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."


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