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An Alternative to the American Flag Lapel Pin

The little red wagon lapel pin sparks conversations about the promises we make to Lakewood's youth.

I am a CSPAN junkie.   Addicted since who know's when.  For me, CSPAN beats any other TV reality show hands down.

The player's costumes on CSPAN, I'll admit, are quite boring  - comprising of the mundane business suits that transcend all cultures, politics, and borders.  Yet, over the years a small accessory, the little American flag lapel pin, has increasingly graced the costumes on CSPAN.

I am all for "outward signs of an inward goal".  I believe that we as humans look somewhat to these devices to inspire ourselves and others.  Whether it is a profile picture on Facebook, wearing a pink (or yellow) ribbon, a special bracelet for a cause, or a wedding ring, these symbols are important.

Yet, the little American flag lapel pin confuses me.  Why do those in the US government wear them on their suits?  What is gained by wearing them? Do these "players" need to remind themselves and others that they are American?  Do they worry that they are not perceived as patriotic? What talking points do they generate? 

For example:

"I see by the little American flag lapel pin that you are wearing that you are an American - I am one too". 

"My little American flag lapel pin is bigger than yours!"  

"I have a little American flag lapel pin - I want to talk about America".   

I also wonder if being seen without the little American flag lapel pin comprises a breech in decorum.  Maybe, without the pin, cordiality is not an option.

As for me, on behalf of Lakewood's Promise, I have lots of lapel pins that I enjoy giving away.  They are not American flags but rather, little red wagons. They are cute and very "wearable",   I have heard several stories over the years about what happens when people wear a little red wagon lapel pin - they get asked questions about the pin and the meaning of it.

Luckily, when I give out the pin, it is attached to a card that outlines the Five Promises that are the mainstay of America's Promise.  So I hope that often, the bearers of the pins may be talking about the First Promise - Caring Adults.  The conversation could be about how they are taking time to mentor a child and that there are sadly, several kids in the city on the waiting list looking for mentors also.

Or maybe the conversation turns to the Second Promise - Safe Places.  He/She could be sharing stories about an amazing after-school program that gives young people positive things to do after school, improving their minds and keeping them active and out of trouble.

Maybe the discussion is about the Third Promise - A Healthy Start.  It could be about getting involved with the local school to advocate healthy lunch choices or finding ways to make sure that new moms understand the best ways to ensure that their babies have the best nutrition early-on.

The Fourth Promise - Effective Education (Marketable Skills) may pop up.  They could be discussing internship opportunities for teens, or ways of engaging young people in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Or possibly, the Fifth Promise - Opportunities to Help Others may be the topic of the moment.  It could be about seeing youth groups and scouts volunteer, being helped by a kid in any way, and helping youth find ways to give back to Lakewood.

I have nothing against the little American flag lapel pin, but I am truly an advocate for the little red wagon pins because I believe that the conversations that they inspire are good for Lakewood and good for America.

If you too, want a lapel pin, then please let me know.  But be prepared for some amazing conversations about our kids.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brent Champaco November 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Excellent stuff, Kurt! What a great effort Lakewood's Promise is. And as far as the pin, I agree. It's no less significant than any other pin if it's something you believe in.
Andrew Dale December 04, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I like the American Flag however I would agree that there is a time and place. I don't think that replacing the lapel pin with something else that symbolizes something important would make them less patriotic, etc...
Andrew Dale December 04, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I did a little more research about the Flag lapel pins after article and making my last post, I figured I would share. Flag pins were first popularized by Nixon administration in the early 70's in response to the counterculture movement. While those were burning flags and spitting on our soldiers, Republicans wore the pins to identify themselves as patriots. They fell out of fashion when Nixon resigned from office, that is until they were resurrected by Bush shortly after 9-11. This was the best explanation about why the the flag pin was originally worn so prominently.

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