Measuring A True Patriot

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It’s a sad day in America when a tiny flag pin defines the measure of one’s patriotism.

And so for the past day or so, mainstream media and avid media consumers alike have been harping over the fact that Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama refuses to wear the tiny stars and stripes that to them so prestigiously symbolizes true American patriotism. The ensuing question–how patriotic is the presidential hopeful now that all of America knows he refuses to wear the pin?      

Some Americans believe that Obama’s refusal to wear the pin shows a lack of patriotism. Take conservative Sean Hannity’s comment on Fox News: “Why do we wear pins? Because our country is under attack!”
Others are circumspect.

“Aren’t there more important issues America should be worrying about? Bush just vetoed a bill to allow low-income children to have adequate health care . . . and I’m sure that douche wears a flag pin. Obama isn’t concerned with what he wears, it’s what he does that matters,” one person said in response to an article by David Wright and Sunlen Miller posted on the ABC News Web site on October 4.      

And this just in, Obama isn’t the only presidential candidate who does not wear a flag pin. In fact, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is the big exception to the rule, as he is rarely seen without his pin, according to the same article. So I guess the big question isn’t whether or not a flag pin makes one more of a patriot, but what defines true patriotism.      

Obama said he decided not to wear the pin as a sign of his opposition to the War in Iraq. He admits that he did, for a short time after 9/11, wear the pin, but says he took it off after it became a substitute for true patriotism. What is true patriotism?

“Speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security,” Obama says in an October 5, New York Times online article by Jeff Zeleny.

He continues: “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m gonna’ try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”

I have to agree with Obama here. There are many ways Americans can demonstrate patriotism and wearing a pin does not make anyone more, or less, patriotic than another.

When it comes to the business of patriotism, actions should speak louder than a symbol, and there are many ways Americans can show their patriotism apart from wearing a lapel pin – flying the flag, pledging allegiance to the flag and talking about the values that are important to America, as Senator Hillary Clinton mentions in the Wright and Miller article.

Obama’s refusal to wear the pin is more of a symbol of his disagreement with the War in Iraq than him showing a lack of patriotism. To say that Obama’s disapproval of the war and not wearing the pin show he’s indeed unpatriotic is a presumptuous assumption.      

It’s up to Obama to decide whether or not he wants to wear the flag pin; that’s his decision to make. One of the many examples of American patriotism is allowing other people to voice their own opinions.

It’s the idealistic thing to do. So to judge Obama’s patriotism solely on his refusal to wear the pin would be arrogant, false and even unpatriotic.




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