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 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*, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.”
Myth Blaster Verdict: TRUE.
It is an abbreviated version of the actual speech of which Senator McCain speaks frankly about everything from the scandal surfaced at the time and President GW Bush’s stance on foreign matters as well as the Iraq and war against Islamic fascism.
The above text appears to be an abbreviated version of a speech given by Senator John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, before the Republican National Convention in 1988. McCain has told the story of fellow POW Mike Christian, who was beaten by the North Vietnamese for sewing an American flag on the inside of his shirt, on more than one occasion and was clearly inspired by his friend’s irrepressible sense of duty, honor and patriotism.
Before turning to a political career which has included representing the state of Arizona for two terms in the House and four terms in the Senate, John McCain was a United States Naval Academy graduate who served as a naval aviator for twenty-one years and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam in 1967. Senator McCain rose to national prominence during his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, ultimately losing out to Governor George W. Bush of Texas. Senator McCain delivered versions of the anecdote quoted above – the tale of Mike Christian, a Navy navigator who had been shot down in Vietnam six months before McCain and who used a bamboo needle and scraps of colored cloth to sew an American flag inside his shirt – several times at speeches given along the campaign trail during 1999-2000, often bringing large crowds to a hush with his story of one prisoner’s patriotism. McCain also related his tale in the History Channel’s “Prisoners of War: Code of Conduct” series.
My friends, we’re in the middle of a scandal. You know that, I know that. … It’s very unfortunate; it’s very unfortunate, and we need to fix it. …
Now what’s wrong? What’s wrong? Is it lobbying? Look, lobbyists are good people; they’re decent people, Every American has the right under the Constitution to petition their government. It’s a system that’s gotten broken and gone terribly out of control, and it’s called earmarking and we have to fix it. Do you think that we ought to spend $2 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana? … My dear friends in 1984, Ronald Reagan vetoed the highway bill because it had 152 pork barrel projects in it. 152. Ronald Reagan in his own inimitable style said, “I haven’t seen this much pork since I gave out blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair.” Now on the last highway bill it was 6,140 earmarks. My friends that’s your money. … We cannot do that with American tax dollars. We cannot do it. We cannot do that.
The President of the United States has called for a line item veto. … We need to pass a line item veto, and we need to do it very quickly. But we also need to stop this. … And we cannot spend everything on anything that happens to come down the pike, as you know.
Social Security. … I believe that the President of the United States did exactly the right thing after he was elected to go to the country to ask to reform Social Security. … Are we going to wait until there’s no money left? … We have to fix Social Security. …
Now I just want to talk to you about two more issues and then we’ll go out and enjoy the evening. First of all, Iran. Iran may be the single gravest threat that America has faced the end of the Cold War, absent the whole issue of the war on terror which is a long twilight struggle issue you know. If the Iranians acquire nuclear weapons which we are hell bent to do that, then my friends, we are in trouble. A nuclear-armed Iran with missiles to deliver it threatens not only Israel but destabilizes the entire Middle East. … And I believe that now it depends on whether China and Russia decide to veto or not in the United Nations Security Council. And my friends, we should make it clear to both those countries that it will dictate our relations with those two nations. …
Iraq, as you know, continues to be a very difficult situation. It is very, extremely difficult and tough, and I’ll be glad to have an academic discussion with you as to whether we should have gone into Iraq or not. I still believe we should. I believe that Saddam Hussein would have acquired weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions were breaking down and the fact is that he had used weapons of mass destruction twice in the future and I believe he would again. And if you don’t think that oil for food program was a scandal, I’ll provide you with the information. Billions of dollars were being siphoned off. The fact is that anybody that says the President of the United States is lying about weapons of mass destruction is lying. …