Last year, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama quit wearing his flag lapel pin on a regular basis. He said he thought the pin was a substitute for true patriotism.
This may actually become an issue in this year’s presidential campaign — a distraction from the more important matters at hand, but an issue nonetheless.
Never mind that both Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Obama’s former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, don’t wear such pins. Some on the far right are whispering that Obama doesn’t love his country.
It’s been argued that our fighting men and women throughout our history have fought for the flag. Not exactly. Rather, they have taken up arms to represent what the flag represents — the freedoms that we enjoy.
Yes, the stars and stripes make up our national symbol, but the flag would mean nothing if it weren’t for our nation’s grant of liberty to all.
And make no mistakes about it. Our freedoms are what has made this country so great. Some would argue that the Bush administration has eroded our rights through warrantless wiretapping and imprisonment of “enemy combatants” without trial. Such actions are highly objectionable, and we as Americans should stand against them.
At the same time, we enjoy enormous freedoms. We can criticize our president vehemently without fear of oppression. In much of the world, people don’t enjoy such freedom. Also, we can worship at the church of our choice, or not even worship at all. That’s why Robertson High School officials got into hot water recently when they mandated students attend baccalaureate, which is essentially a church service.
When we look at the campaigns of Obama and others, we shouldn’t measure their patriotism by the pins on their lapels or by the number of flags in their backdrops. Rather, the more important gauge is their belief in our nation’s freedoms. On that count, we believe Obama and other presidential candidates are patriotic.
Saturday is Flag Day. Let’s not limit our understanding of what this nation represents by wrapping ourselves up in Old Glory. Instead, let’s fly it freely, because the freedom it stands for is far greater than the fabric it’s made of.