Pro-war or not, Hawai'i shoppers inspired
|||War in Iraq drives up sales of U.S. flags, peace emblems|
By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
With the war in full swing, Hawai'i residents are beginning to renew displays of their patriotism by replacing American flags, stickers and lapel pins bought right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but others are purchasing items to show they oppose the war and want to promote peace.
Jeff Widener The Honolulu Advertiser
Patrick Chang, owner of the Nu'uanu Open Market produce shop and Thai restaurant, finds that while customers are sometimes at odds about the war, they are united behind the troops.
Jeff Widener The Honolulu Advertiser
"I don't think you are going to see the run that you did after 9/11, but there is definitely an increased interest," Phillips said. "Flags are a very emotional thing."
Flying Flags also carries T-shirts, mugs, purses, earrings, vests, watches, shorts and stickers, all adorned with American flags.
"I think the feeling is whether they are for or against the war, they are supporting our troops and have pushed their own opinions to the side," Phillips said.
San Francisco resident Ron Yamaoke, a veteran from the Vietnam War era, bought U.S. and Hawaiian flag decals for his cars back home. He was born in Hawai'i and wants to show patriotism and his pride for the Islands.
"What is the best country in the world?" Yamaoke asked. "America. Where is the best place to live in America? Hawai'i."
One woman bought a couple of lapel-pin flags for her upcoming trip to Las Vegas.
Patrick Chang, owner of the Nu'uanu Open Market produce shop and Thai restaurant, said the television in his shop has been on constantly since the war started. Customers are sometimes at odds about the war, but not about supporting the troops.
"It's patriotic to hear both sides," Chang said. "If you don't support the war doesn't mean you are not patriotic. It just means you think it is not worth fighting for. For me, it's important to support the troops and show our flag."
Chang's family also runs a produce booth in the Manoa Marketplace farmers market. He put an American flag on his booth after the Sept. 11 attacks and it has been there ever since.
Chang, who immigrated to America from Laos 20 years ago, said he hopes the war will be over quickly. He became a naturalized citizen in 1987 and his brother, Saioty Phoummaly, is in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Phoummaly said he could be called to active duty any time.
"There is a good chance I could go," said Phoummaly, "especially if North Korea starts acting up. Hopefully the war in Iraq will be quick. Some have surrendered already. But if I'm called, I will go."
T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons calling for peace and protesting the war are also hot-selling items in Honolulu. Revolution Books in Pucks Alley is selling dozens of the items, along with books that analyze the causes of the war.
University of Hawai'i political science professor Neal Milner said citizens who protest the war are showing patriotism, too.
Milner, who finds that war supporters and opponents "are both consistent with American political values about democracy," said: "To me there is no question that it is just as patriotic to protest as it is to support."
Milner said it is hard during wartime for protesters to get the message across that they are not against the U.S. troops.
"The most unforgiving thing you can do in terms of protest is to just label it as unpatriotic," Milner said. "I don't think that is fair and it is not what American democracy is all about."
Displays of patriotism were everywhere after the Sept. 11 terrorism, Milner said, because it was a "highly visible" event that "hit closer to home." The war in Iraq is not so clear-cut.
Clyde Pearce, who served in the Army from 1985 to 1993, is showing his support for the war in Iraq and the troops fighting there by flying two large American flags from the back of his pickup.
Pearce, of Enchanted Lake, said the flags represent the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He first flew the flags after 9/11 and kept them on his truck for several months.
When the war in Iraq broke out, Pearce bought six pairs of flags. He said he will keep them flying until they are worn out.
Reach James Gonser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-2431.