American symbols: Time to bury the POW/MIA flag? THE POW/MIA FLAG at Pearl Harbor in 2010. US Navy photo by Robert Stirrup, released to Wikimedia Commons, shows the flag being raised at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Today is Memorial Day, a day the nation pauses to pay homage to American servicemen and servicewomen killed in the line of duty. Originally called Decoration Day, it means many things to many people. One is a reminder of Vietnam and the POW/MIA flag. This flag has become an American icon.

Now, some vets want to bury the flag. Is it time?

The flag was created during the war by those who felt (correctly, I believe) that the US government was downplaying the issue of the war’s prisoners and missing in action. John McCain, presidential candidate in 2008, was one such POW. The POW/MIS flag has become a potent American symbol. And it has also become a commercial symbol. I recall an episode of American Chopper where when one of their custom motorcycles sported the carved silhouette of the downcast face.

A Michigan chapter of Veterans for Peace says it’s time to bury the POW/MIA flag, according to news reports in Michigan. The symbol has been commercialized, they say, and for some it is a symbol of the glory of war. Their mission is “to abolish war as an instrument of national policy.” For them, the POW/MIA flag is a symbol of the use of force to resolve conflicts. This Memorial Day is the time to bury this “symbol of hatred and revenge.”

Do you agree with the Michigan chapter?

Is it time to bury this symbol?

Or, would we lose an important American symbol if we did?

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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