Jack Simpson - What's Obama's problem with flag pins?

The struggle for the Democratic nomination continues. People are tired of listening to the bickering between candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Questions are asked about Clinton's Bosnia visit. Was she under sniper fire? Obama has his own problems, one of which is trying to distance himself from the views of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Another trivial question is his aversion to wearing an American flag pin. He claims he is patriotic, yet he doesn't care to proclaim it with a pin (the same one worn by the president, numerous public figures, policemen and firemen).

Obama feels it is not necessary to wear his patriotism on his sleeve and that he works for veteran's benefits and a chance to change economic conditions that cause divisions in our country. The senator believes he can bind America's racial wounds.

So, then, Obama, what's the big deal? The veterans you claim to want to help probably all wear flag pins. They are proud to embrace the stars and stripes. Many of them have fought, and some have died, to carry our flag into battle.

It may be that Wright and his congregation feel black Americans have not gotten a fair shake in our economy. They may feel that we are not truly "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

True or not, there are many times in our history when we have had to express faith and love for our country even when our country didn't seem to love us. It is our country, right or wrong, remember?

It bothers some voters that they cannot really understand Obama's stand on wearing a flag pin or showing the proper respect for this symbol of the nation. Presidents of the United States are assumed to believe in our principles of freedom, justice and equality. The president swears to support the Constitution, obey the laws, defend the nation, and above all, "respect the flag."

America faces many serious problems, and whether a presidential candidate wears a flag pin is probably not something people should spend much time worrying about. True, but the question of "why not wear one?" is like a pesky gnat buzzing around your ear! It will not go away, and the candidate refusing tends to strain credibility.

After all, we have been taught (from a very early age) that our flag stands for the nation, our people, land, government and ideals. The flag inspires courage and sacrifice. Most citizens of the United States embrace the American flag, salute it, carry it into battle, march with it in parades, drape it over the coffins of fallen warriors, and fight and die to honor it.

Those who do not do so have every right as citizens not to be participants and not to wear flag pins. By not wearing one, a politician may well be patriotic, yet his failure to do so raises questions.

Perhaps we will not see a flag pin in Obama's lapel. Maybe he will not publicly proclaim his love of country until he is elected, makes changes and turns the United States into a more perfect union. At a time when the senator does display his patriotism, we trust it will be for all of the right reasons.

Whatever his choice as a citizen, the American flag may still be seen flying over the polling places where voters cast their ballots.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.