True patriotism cannot be bought

I got my first car just shy of six months after the 9/11 attacks. It was a time when the country experienced a surge of patriotism and rallied behind both President George W. Bush and the ensuing war on terror.
It seemed not only unpatriotic but almost sacrilegious to not have some symbol of American pride for all to see during those sensitive months.
It was as if those "evil doers" were Superman and our tiny flags were their kryptonite.
So what does my first car have to do with any of this? Because when I bought the car used, affixed to my rear window was an American flag sticker, beaming with American pride.
I dubbed my new Jetta the America Mobile.
As the months wore on, the classic blue and white of the stars and the bold red of the stripes began to fade into a flag of orange and yellow.
The fading of the colors seemed to mirror the true patriotism that many politicians were actually exhibiting in the following months as well.
Our country was drawn into one of the most unnecessary wars in recent memory, with politicians using deceptive techniques to draw approval from the masses.
Does anyone remember the supposed weapons of mass destruction?
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., knows well enough about the importance of having an immaculate appearance, but last week a reporter during a television interview in Cedar Rapids, Iowa noticed something missing on his jacket.
A reported asked Obama why he no longer wore an American flag on his lapel.
His answer says it all: "The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin … particularly because we are talking about the Iraq war, that it became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security."
Later, when his campaign issued a statement regarding the issue, they said, "We all revere the flag, but Sen. Obama believes that being a patriot is more than a symbol. It's about fighting for our veterans when they get home and speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war."
Obama's stance seems to convey exactly what America needs right now. In a culture obsessed with superficial fixes, the Illinois senator's comments touch a nerve that needs to be addressed.
We can no longer ride the coattails of 9/11 patriotism without looking at all the atrocities that have occurred to both our soldiers and to innocent civilians abroad. Slapping on an American flag bumper sticker or a lapel isn't going to fix what's broken in the United States at the moment.
Obama pointed out some of the great injustices that the National Guard and the Army Reserve troops have had to endure, as well as the pressing issue of mental health issues of returning soldiers.
Being true to America isn't about having the biggest flag waving in your front yard - it's about taking care of the issues that will make the U.S. a stronger nation.
I applaud Obama for putting his view about false patriotism out there, and for contributing to help create an open dialogue about the many issues concerning the ongoing war in Iraq.
Don't get me wrong, I think showing our country's flag is a wonderful gesture, but Obama has a point - if it is overdone by people who aren't acting in the best interest of their country, it can seem almost cliché.
As for my car, I have not replaced the faded old flag sticker, but it is important to note that the absence of the sticker does not accurately reflect any sense of lost patriotism. Sometimes the old saying is true: Our actions speak louder than words, and thus showing love for America is more important than just buying it at a convenience store.

by Lauren Englehardt

U.S. flag should fly highest

While watching the 11 o'clock newscast recently, I saw an incident that I just had to write about. An American soldier, probably a veteran, cut down an American flag in front of a store because the owner of the store was flying a foreign flag above the American flag.

This is a breach of flag etiquette, it conveys disrespect for our country. No foreign flag is to be flown above the American flag in the United States. I feel that the man has every right to do what he did, and if I were there, I might have done the same thing.

I have nothing against the flag of Mexico, but I do object to it being placed over the flag of my country. If the Hispanics don't like that rule of flag etiquette, they can go back to Mexico. I can't believe that this veteran might get in trouble because the Hispanics are going to boycott something. Wake up, people! This is America and I respect my flag and the boys who are dying for our freedom under this banner. The owner claims he is an American citizen. If he is, he should have known better, or at least, taken the trouble to find out the proper placement of the flags before he put them up.