American Flag Flown at Half - Staff ... for a Foreigner? | Beaufort County Now | Just last Sunday, December 8, 2013, I noticed the flags at the Beaufort County Court House flown at half-staff, and I naturally wondered why?

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    Just last Sunday, December 8, 2013, I noticed that the flags at the Beaufort County Court House were flown at half-staff, and I naturally wondered why? I also noticed that it was raining while the flag was flying at half-staff, and, moreover, I had additional questions about that revelation as well. But then it hit me: The anniversary of Pearl Harbor was December 7, so that must be the answer. But then I considered: Would Barack Obama really lower the flag for the "Day that would live in infamy?" And the logical answer was no. Still, I needed to solve the half-staff conundrum, and what about 'Old Glory' being left out in the cold December rain?

    Come Monday morning, I was resolved to discover the truth, so I elected to call my number one employee with the county, Randell Woodruff, our county manager; however, I discovered Monday morning that Randell was indisposed due to a sudden health priority, which sent our manager to Pitt Memorial until the next Thursday, so I shelved the query until I could speak with my county's number two employee, Assistant County Manager Jim Chrisman for some explanation. When we finally did find the time, with Jim taking on Randell's extra duties and me doing all that I always do, to broach the subject, Jim confirmed my fear, "the President ordered the American flag to be flown at half-staff to honor the death of Nelson Mandela."

    Assistant Manager Chrisman, an ever flowing conduit of pertinent information, continued, as he sensed my consternation over the issue of using the American flag to make a very reserved statement over the heroism of a non American: "Not everyone fell in line over the executive order to fly the flag at half-staff for Mandela," mentioned Chrisman, "A Pickens County Sheriff defied the President's order, and instead said he would fly the flag at half-staff to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day rather than the Obama prescribed Nelson Mandela."

    My reply was simply: "Makes total sense to me for the sheriff to take a stand; however, is Obama setting precedent by honoring a foreigner? In all of my knowledge, the only foreigner that would ever deserve such an honor would have been Winston Churchill, and he was half American at that - his mother was from New York."

    Upon further research, I discovered that there was a precedent for flying the American flag at half-staff; as ordered by President Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, to honor the death, as I suspected, of former World War II era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was a controversial decision then for the 37th President to initiate such a honor by precedent, but if there ever was a deserving foreign leader, then or now, it was Winston Churchill. In fact, all others including Mandela, are not even remotely close to being bestowed such a honor as was Prime Minister Churchill, of flying our American flag at half-staff formerly reserved as recognition for the deaths of our own patriots, our own heroes.

    Understanding these ramifications, if there ever was a foreign American patriot, it was Winston Churchill. Prime Minister Churchill stood shoulder to shoulder with Americans after the aforementioned Pearl Harbor to defeat the great evil that were the Axis powers: the German Empire, the Empire of Japan and Italy. After World War II, when he was still the British PM and afterward, Churchill was a staunch ally to defeat soviet communism, understanding that its fascist mechanism of governing was as evil as the Nazi war machine of the 1930's and early to mid 1940's.

    Regardless of whether 'Half-American' Winston Churchill deserved such an honor, the precedent was indeed set, and since then American presidents have used the half-staff American Flag to honor a hand full of foreign leaders, who were, to their esteemed credit, accorded this highest of American honors in death were, in fact, great leaders on the world stage. American Presidents, since Lyndon Johnson set that precedent, who flew the American flag at half-staff for foreign leaders were: President Ronald Reagan for Anwar Sadat in 1981; President Bill Clinton for Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and King Hussein of Jordan in 1999; George W. Bush for Pope John Paul II in 2005; and now Mr. Obama for Nelson Mandela.

    There is plenty of precedent, and furthermore, I would be surprised if we did not see more of this behavior from United States presidents in the future, as they seek to curry favor with other world leaders, which makes the honor more tempered toward an accommodation rather than a great honor for American patriots. The president reserves such a right as per the United States Flag Code. While, on one hand, I champion the gutsy prerogative of the Pickens County Sheriff (South Carolina) Rick Clark to make his stand against the 'watering down' of this prestigious honor, in death, for patriots, and on the other hand, I understand the presidential prerogative to do so, and I will not take a stand on this issue either way ... unless it starts getting truly silly, and I believe all intelligent people will know when that time is nigh - like Bill Clinton's selling sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom.

    Be that as it may, I do have a distinct problem with leaving Old Glory out in the rain, as Beaufort County did of that Sunday, December 8th, even if the flag may be of a material impervious to water. It sends the wrong message, and defiles the symbolic effort of our patriots' pure courage to defend this country, these colors, and, moreover, to hoist and carry these colors as a rallying point in so many U.S. battles, irrespective of how archaic this exercise may appear now in this age of ultra-efficient battlefield communications. To that end, the symbolism of the American flag is absolute, and, therefore, the flag should be accorded the perfect honors it rightly deserves as the best symbol of those that have bled and died to keep us free.

    This flag etiquette issue will be on Beaufort County's agenda for the county commissioners' January general meeting, and we will decide then to either do what is right by our flag, or fall into the complacency that is the hallmark of so many thoughtless Americans in today's times.

    I'll keep you informed.
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Comment

( January 1st, 2014 @ 6:28 pm )
 
I will not be on the Beaufort County Commissioner Agenda for this meeting.

I can not find conclusive evidence, through my research, that states that the American flag can not get wet when flown at half-staff. From what I found it is fine for Old Glory to to be soaked if it is flown at half-staff.

If anyone knows of any difference from this, please let me know?



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