Dear Rick Perlstein --
That POW/MIA flag you want to take down? That one you say symbolizes "racist hate"?
That flag is for us.
And by "us," I mean you too.
I'm telling you this because maybe you didn't realize it. I didn't see any acknowledgment of the reason for the flag in the editorial you wrote this week for Newsweek. Somehow, in more than 1,500 words, you managed to miss the point.
That flag is for every wife who, like me, sends her husband off to war, and for every husband who watches as his wife heads into danger.
It's for every mother and father who -- at this very moment -- are fighting through their instincts to protect the child they raised, gulping back their fear, and trying to hide their tears as that young man or young woman leaves for basic training.
It's for every child who has to be physically pulled off of their mother or father at the farewell ceremony so that service member can deploy.
It's for every brother and sister. Every grandmother and grandfather. Every best friend. Every cousin. Every aunt and uncle. Every homeroom teacher. Every minister. Every coach. Every everyone.
And it is most definitely for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who has chosen the harder path at a time in our country when doing so is neither expected, nor particularly rewarded.
I haven't checked your research. I don't know if what you say about the history of the POW/MIA flag is true. I won't be reading your book. Quite honestly, I don't care.
You're a journalist -- so am I. We know that there's an ugly story to be found behind absolutely everything. That's why it baffles me that you turned your considerable efforts on the symbol of a sacred promise.
We, all of us -- everyone who has ever worn a uniform, everyone who has ever loved anyone who has served, and everyone who ever will love a service member -- we need that flag. You need that flag. And the reason why we need it is written right on it:
"You Are Not Forgotten."
It is the very smallest pledge our country can make to the people who volunteer to defend us, and to all the people who love them. It's the least we can say to all who deny the human instinct to stay safe and comfortable and put their trust instead in fate.
That flag tells all who serve, have served, or ever will serve that our country refuses to leave even one person behind. It tells us that if the absolute worst thing imaginable happens to that man or woman we love, if he or she is taken prisoner or goes missing, if he or she falls into the hands of people who mean them only harm -- our country will never stop looking for them.
I don't want to live in a country where we don't boldly announce that promise anytime and everywhere we can.
Photos: U.S. Air Force.