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Saturday, July 5

What's with the ridiculous flag pin anyway

From It's Nixon's fault.

It was during the culture wars of the late '60s and early '70s that the flag lapel pin truly took off and became the simultaneously uniting and divisive symbol that it is today. Republican candidates in the 1970 congressional race wore them as a symbol of patriotic solidarity against anti-Vietnam protesters like Abbie Hoffman — who donned a shirt made of the flag — or others who stitched the flag onto the seat of their pants. But it was Richard Nixon who brought the pin to national attention. According to Stephen E. Ambrose's biography Nixon, the President got the idea for sporting a lapel pin from his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, who had noticed a similar gesture in the Robert Redford film The Candidate. Nixon commanded all of his aides to go and do likewise. The flag pins were noticed by the public, and many in Nixon's supposed "silent majority" began to similarly sport flags on their lapels. Over the next few decades, the pin sporadically surged in popularity. During the Gulf War, they sold briskly alongside flag patches and yellow ribbons.

Then came 9/11. Taking a page from the Nixon Administration, George W. Bush and his aides all donned pins.

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