- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Members of Congress are hearing an outpouring of patriotism from constituents jamming the Capitol switchboard to share their concerns and outrage over the terrorist attacks on America.

"They're flying their flags and they're angry," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and Vietnam veteran, said his office is also being flooded with constituent calls.

Their message, Mr. McCain said, is "patriotism, resolve and a cold fury of determination."

"They want [the terrorists] to be punished and for us to do whatever is necessary so that we never have to go through this again," Mr. McCain said.

The offices of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, are fielding as many as 250 calls a day, his spokesman said.

"There is an outpouring of patriotism of the people calling in and asking what they can do to help," said spokesman Pete Jeffries. "We're telling them to donate blood and fly your flag."

The House yesterday unanimously passed a resolution urging Americans to fly the flag for the next 30 days outside their homes, businesses, public buildings and places of worship.

"By doing so, we provide a physical tribute from coast-to-coast and around the globe in memory of those we lost and to show publicly our solidarity, resolve and strength as a nation that these terrorist actions will not stand," Mr. Hastert said.

"As a nation, we must stand strong together to denounce these cowardly acts of war against our people, our nation, and our civilization. As a united people, we must show our colors to those with sinister hearts and minds throughout the world that we will not be deterred," Mr. Hastert said.

Wal-Mart is reporting a record number of flag sales in its stores nationwide.

On Tuesday, the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, 116,000 flags were sold compared with 6,400 flags sold on Sept. 11, 2000, said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams.

Wednesday, the chain sold 200,000 flags and quickly arranged with suppliers to replenish stocks.

"People are buying anything red white and blue, especially ribbons," Mr. Williams said.

The House Republican Conference handed out red, white and blue ribbons for its caucus to wear on lapels to show solidarity.

However, they ran out of ribbons yesterday, and a spokeswoman said they couldn't find more to purchase.

Jim Wiltraut shopped at numerous area stores before locating a flag to fly at his Alexandria home. To his chagrin, his neighbors informed him flags are a violation of condominium rules.

"I just smiled at them and said 'yes, it is' and that was that," said Mr. Wiltraut, a naval Reserve officer.

"I'm waiting for that call to volunteer at the Pentagon and until I get that call, all we can really do is fly the flag and pray," Mr. Wiltraut.

All over the Capitol, members of Congress sported stickers touting blood donations to the American Red Cross.

The outpouring of staff and members giving blood forced the blood bank to temporarily turn back donors until later in the afternoon.

"A crisis always brings out the best of Americans; it's the strength of America," Mr. McCain said.


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