Alexander's Column

Political Agendas and Half-Staff Flags

Why Obama Honors the Memory of Some and Not Others

By Mark Alexander · May 30, 2013
“My anxious recollections, my sympathetic feeling, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.” –George Washington (1796)

Our noble United States flag has been on my mind and in my heart this week.

At sunrise last Saturday, I took my 90-year-old father, a World War II Naval Aviator, to place flags at National Cemetery here in Chattanooga.

For many years, I have been humbled to join with other veterans, families and Scout Troops ahead of Memorial Day as we post some 50,000 flags on grave markers. We complete our work in about an hour, and the result is a remarkable transformation of this beautiful expanse of hallowed ground.

The morning starts with a moving tribute to generations of warriors who, in defense of Liberty, gave their lives on beaches and battlefields, high seas and skies. They are saluted with 21 guns, and then Taps.

It was the first time my father had attended this event, and the old warrior was moved to tears. This was apparent to all when he was interviewed by NBC. He was the oldest veteran participating that day.

The final flags I place each year mark the graves of two Vietnam-era F-105 wingmen, one KIA and the other shot down three months later, who then spent five agonizing years as a POW. The latter, Roger Ingvalson, was a life-mentor to me.

On Memorial Day morning, I rose well before sunrise, went to The Patriot Post’s publishing office and lowered our flag to half its 40-foot staff. I did the same at our local elementary school, and then returned to my home where I lowered our flag. Then, as with most mornings, I retreated to our back porch for morning prayers and to watch the sun rise above the trees, before charging into the day.

In the quiet of that moment, I recalled a question I was asked last December, when Barack Obama ordered flags to half-staff – and we did not comply.

There are five perennial Presidential Proclamations ordering flags to half-staff. Beyond those, presidents traditionally order flags to half-staff at the death of notable politicians or other national figures.

For example, in the years since he took office, Obama has ordered flags lowered at the death of four senators – Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Arlen Specter and Daniel Inouye – the latter being a Medal of Honor recipient. He also ordered flags lowered for Army Corporal Frank Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, and for Neil Armstrong – the first man to set foot on the moon.

Fittingly, Obama also memorialized the 2009 murder of 13 Army personnel and the wounding of 30 others at Ft. Hood by Islamist Nidal Malik Hasan. And he memorialized the 2012 murder of our Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans by Islamists in Benghazi, though days later he was adulterating the Benghazi talking points in order not to derail his presidential re-election campaign.

As a practice, I always lower our flags on Memorial Day, Patriot Day (9/11) and Pearl Harbor Day, and in honor of military Patriots, law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

But last December, after the mass murder at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, a disgruntled Leftist (and a major Obama donor) called to protest the fact that I had not lowered our corporate office flag as Obama ordered. While the Newtown deaths were tragic beyond words, I responded to her that I do not lower our flags to support Obama’s political agendas, especially those that are an affront to everything our flag represents. Further, I advised her that I do not take orders from the government on when and how I may post and raise our colors. (Ironically, maybe it would be appropriate to lower our flags in response to Obama’s political assaults on Liberty.)

Likewise, for the same reason, I did not lower our flag as Obama ordered after the murders in Aurora, Colorado, or Tucson, Arizona, or Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I certainly meant no disrespect to the dead or their grieving families, and in fact, think Obama showed them great disrespect by politicizing their deaths. Further, I doubt that those flag orders comply with 36 U.S.C. CHAPTER 10, and its stipulations about flag placement in sections 174, 175(m) or 176.

To put this into context, consider Obama’s visit to the tornado-ravaged ruins in and around Moore, Oklahoma, this week (which he referred to as “Monroe”). There were 24 men, women and children who died in that tragedy, and tens of thousands were left homeless. Why did Obama not order flags lowered to honor those dead – at least in the state of Oklahoma, as he did in the state of West Virginia after a mining accident there in 2010?

By comparison, there were 12 people killed in Aurora, and six killed in Tucson and Oak Creek. Why were they honored and not those who died in Oklahoma?

That question may sound callous and insensitive, but the obvious answer is that the deaths in Oklahoma did not coincide with Obama’s top legislative agenda items – though a few Democrats did assert that the tornados were the result of “global warming.”

But when a tragedy does coincide with Obama’s top legislative priority, he will shamelessly use those deaths to promote it. And the crown jewel for the NeoComs controlling the Democrat Party is redefining the Second Amendment, the biggest obstacle to the advance of socialist statism.

I’m reminded this week, with the arrest of an Oregon teenager who was assembling explosive devices and looking to acquire a gun in order to replicate the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, that the Senate’s so-called “assault weapons” ban is fully drafted and awaiting the next mass murder so Leftists can “seize the emotional moment” and attempt to win its passage.

Obama spent a lot of time between January and April of this year using the coffins of dead children as a political platform to promote his gun control agenda – and for the left, gun registration followed by gun confiscation is the coup de grace, the prerequisite to unmitigated statist power.

If you think this president would not order flags flown at half-staff to promote a political agenda, you’re not thinking hard enough.

At present, Obama is besieged with scandals – the politically motivated adulteration of the Benghazi talking points, the politically motivated targeting of Patriot groups by the IRS and the politically motivated prosecution of a Fox News journalist.

When his former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” he was talking about crises that could be converted to capital for political gain. Obama’s current crises are not convertible, but the next mass murder will be.

Footnote: For more information on the proper and respectful display of our national flag, see The American Flag.


View all comments


Jan in Polson, MT said:

My flag has been at half staff since Obama occupied our White House, representing a Nation in Mourning.
Soon it will be flown upside down to represent a Nation in Distress.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM

John in Highlands Ranch, CO said:

I noticed some flags at half staff THIS week (not on Memorial Day) and the first thought that went through my mind was, "What's Obama celebrating now?" And then I thought to myself, "Boy, am I jaded." When flags are ordered to half staff for everything, then it means nothing. It seems to me that the number of days of half staff flags outnumber the number of days they are at full staff since Obama took control.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

pat in coeur d alene said:

Didn't Obama also order flags at half mast for Whitney Houston?

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Nukeman in Ill Annoy replied:

Pat, that was Governor Christie in New Jersey who ordered flags in NJ flown at half staff.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Mr. John in Colorado said:

This president does very little that is not for his political gain. The lowering of flags has become meaningless as the result of his using it for his personal purposes. At some point flags will be flown at half mast permanently. Why not for the victims of the shooting murders in Chicago or any other city? You are absolutely correct to display your flag in the manner you have indicated and not be another mindless sheep that follows our idiot in chief unquestionably.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Chip Bulin in Rowlett, TX said:

Maybe a posting on this web site of flag etiquette is in order. I frequently see flags displayed that conflict recognized flag etiquette. Just my thoughts...

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Nukeman in Ill Annoy replied:

Easily done. Everyone search for "Flag Code" and read it. It's pretty straight forward.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Boyd in ELLIS said:

right are absolutley not ever, ever change.....politicians come and go....but America stands forever

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:37 PM

David Gunn in Valley Center, CA said:

This 92 year old AAF B-25 pilot veteran of 32 mostly minimum altitude strafing and bombing missions in the southwest Pacific and 48 hour evadee, agrees with your criteria for flying flags at half staff.

I am always provoke that the local Post Office flies the flag 24 hours a day with little elumination at night. When the flag is flying at half staff, it flies 24 hours a day. This is an insult - to our nation and to those for whom it is being flown to honor, including those that are being "honored" for nothing more than political purposes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Margaret Marasco in CA said:

My husband and I only follow the half staff flag on the four holidays stated. We feel that lowering it for every single death that the powers to be want us to honor will dilute the true meaning.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Jiggs in Millen, GA said:

For everything there is a season, as the Bible notes. I am more then sure that Mr. Obama is unaware that this phrase even exits. Afterall, it is not in the Quaran. Another reason Mr. Obama is unaware of the protocol for lowering flags to half staff is because he was not born here, raised here or went to elementary or high school here. He has never been a Boy Scout or served in the US military where US Flag Etiquette is taught. He does what he does always with how it will affect his personal and political agenda. He never does anything because it is the "right thing to do," but rather because it is the politically correct thing to do and will make him appear sensitive to others, when in reality, he couldn't care less. For example, when did President Bush show up at Ground Zero after 9-11, and when did President Obama show up at Moore, OK? The former was there in a couple of days while Obama showed up in Moore after a week had passed. How many times has Obama appeared at home comings for American troops at the DC airports or Dover, Deleware? Mr. and Mrs. Bush show up regularly at Dallas-Fort Worth, and without a motorcade or security escort. Mr. Obama is a political grandstander who has a political reason for everything he does, and Mr. Bush and Mrs. Laura are a Class Act.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Hartwell E Nolan in Shannon said:

I fly my Flag at half mast for the Members of the Military, All Patriotic Days,
NOT for. any and all deaths. The President may order US Flags at half mast as he deems fit. BUT THIS President does not know enough about this Great Christian NATION to determine what is "FIT". GOD SAQVE THIS GREAT CHRISTIAN NATION

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM


Hilary Clinton testifies before Congress, stares them down and screams: 'What difference does it make'? An IRS employee testifies before Congress, blatantly refuses to speak on matters regarding her work performance, and invokes the Fifth Amendment priviledge in the absence of any charge of criminality, and is allowed to walk away without being granted immunity and thus being compelled to testify under the threat of Contempt of Congress? There can only be one explanation for these rediculous charades, Republican cowardice of the most craven sort. They are so very afraid of Democrat Martyrdom, of being seen as mean and nasty, that they run the other way in the face of Democrat stonewalling. Ask yourselves, Republicans: How did that tactic work for Romney in the Presidential debates?

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Judy Lerg in California said:

Sunday’s 07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, Televised “Meet the Press” THE THEN Senator Obama was asked about his stance on the American Flag. “As I’ve said about the flag pin, I don’t want to be perceived as taking sides”. “There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American “the Flag is a symbol of oppression..” “The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing.”
Obama continued: “The National Anthem should be ‘swapped’ for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d like to Teach the World To Sing’. If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it. In my opinion, we should consider reinventing our National Anthem as well as ‘redesign’ our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It’s my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we, as a Nation of warring people, conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails – - – perhaps a state or period of mutual accord could exist between our governments …”

When I become President, I will seek a pact of agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation, have placed upon the nations of Islam, an unfair injustice which is WHY my wife disrespects the Flag and she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past”.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:24 PM

MAJ USA Ret in Saint Louis replied:

While I suspect our POTUS may actually agree with much in your report, it is a well worn urban legend:
Loose lips sink ships. The most distinguishing difference between the conservative and the liberal is the conservative must be a tireless seeker and promoter of absoute truth, and nothing else. TRUTH is the attribute of ultimate value.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:48 PM

RG Schmidt in Crystal River, FL replied:

>> conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails <<

Really? On what planet is that?

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 9:48 AM

MAJ USA Ret in Saint Louis said:

Ignorance of flag etiquette is at least as ubiquitous as ignorance of our Constitution, our history and lack of truth in news reporting.

This POTUS, or his clone, will remain in office as long as the voters acquire their opinion from the main stream media, celebrity and entertainment elite.

Surveys reveal US citizens view an average of 6 hours of television every day! Do you remember when our parents called the television the "boob-tube"? If the average working citizen watches 6 hours of TV every day of the week, and works 40 hours a week, commutes five hours a week, that leaves less than twelve hours a day for rest, personal hygiene, nourishment and exercise. Where is the time for worship or real education? Additionally, seems to me a LOT of citizens seem to find time for additional entertainment (movies, sporting events and other entertainment venues).

Seems these statistics should explain our national obesity epidemic, chronic fatigue epidemic, and fatal ignorance epidemic.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. We live in a nation of blind fools happier to dance to the tunes of any piper than to march to a different drummer. Like children of Hamelin, these citizens are being lured to their demise by sweet sounding lies.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Gary in Engler said:

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, B. Hussein Obama does is for his own political gain.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Nukeman in Ill Annoy replied:

I will go even further. He is a malignant Narcissist who has the power of the President. So I believe everything he does is FOR and ABOUT him.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Craig in Pasadena said:

Mark, among the scandals you mentioned, the "adulteration of the Benghazi talking points" barely scratches the surface of that one! Why was Stevens in Benghazi in the first place? I can assure you that if he had gone there on his own, Obama and Clinton would have been screaming from the rooftops about his poor judgment in traveling to a known terrorist hotbed, while also lamenting his assassination. So . . . he was there at the order of O and C to negotiate the buy-back of US-made Stinger missiles, wasn't he? Can SOMEONE, at long last, pursue this angle, please? Believe me, the facts support it: How else would terrorists know Stevens was in Benghazi? Obviously, if they were going to negotiate with Stevens, they knew--and just decided, why not kill him instead. And why did our military response not happen? Imagine our Special Forces being shot down by our own Stinger missiles. Why haven't we heard from the two-dozen survivors? One of them would spill the beans on the whole mess. Believe me, this scandal will bring down Obama's presidency and perhaps put Clinton in jail for perjury before Congress. The Left calls this scenario another wild-eyed Right Wing conspiracy theory . . . that's what the Right called Watergate, before it blew up on them!

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:31 PM

David Selvy in San Ramon, Ca replied:

@ Kinard - This writer has his cover on straight and his observation is absolutely correct. What troubles me is the ease that This president has to cover, run, dance and cajole with the help of the press he just recently, was discovered spearing with his sharp knives of the IRS and other tools in his drawer. WAKE UP AMERICA! or we will all be walking around in gray cloth coats, caps and little books of Mao in our breast pockets. and prayer rugs rolled under our arms. Think it can't happen? Think again... ask England and France.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM