We Lower Our Flags Because of the Feels, Not Because It’s an Honor. [VIDEO]

We Lower Our Flags Because of the Feels, Not Because It’s an Honor. [VIDEO]

We Lower Our Flags Because of the Feels, Not Because It’s an Honor. [VIDEO]

I was pretty young when an assassin killed President John F. Kennedy, but I still have vivid memories of that day. At school, the principal called us all into the gym and said these very words: “The President has been shot.”

I also remember watching the funeral on television. I recall seeing the flag-draped coffin and the widowed First Lady with their two small children. And that riderless horse with the backwards boots on his saddle, symbolizing a fallen leader.

That was also when I first saw an American flag fly at half-staff. My mother told me that it would fly that way for the next 30 days.

And now it looks like the nation is flying the flag at half-mast yet again. This time it’s in response to the Annapolis shootings, after Mayor Gavin Buckley sent a request to the White House over the weekend.

However, at first the White House rejected the request.

Mayor Buckley grumbled about the rejection, saying that this was an “attack on the press. . . on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”

But then on Tuesday morning, President Trump issued a proclamation to lower flags on public buildings, military posts and vessels, and embassies until sunset. Sarah Sanders excused Trump and said that the rejection didn’t come directly from the President. But when he heard about the mayor’s request, “the president asked that the flags be lowered immediately.”

Well, okay then. But who else thinks that we lower flags waaaay too often? It seems like we lower the flag for every tragedy, and that cheapens the honor.

There are, of course, official guidelines on flag lowering, just as with any kind of handling of the flag, although there are no penalties for non-compliance.

So when does the President order that flags be lowered? The code says “upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a state, territory, or possession.” The code also says the President has a certain amount of leeway in whom to honor. Most recently Trump ordered flags lowered after the death of Barbara Bush. 

But lowering the flag for the victims of the high school shooting in Parkland? Or the high school shooting in Texas?

I know these incidents shocked everyone in the country, but can we just not lower flags for these sorts of events?  Sorry to be the old crank here, but you shouldn’t lower a flag for someone just because they’re a victim.

This is what comes from a nation which is more wrapped up in feelings than in thought.

Border authorities arrest people illegally streaming across our borders, but if their children cry out — well, we must change immigration laws! We pay attention to students’ uninformed ideas about gun laws because there was a shooting at their school. A late-night comic tells us how medical treatment saved his sick baby, and he suddenly becomes an expert on health care.

In other words, it’s all about the feels. Likewise, when a shooting happens, we find ourselves immersed in a 24/7 news cycle, along with sad Facebook posts and slogans declaring that “We are (fill-in-the-place-name) Strong!” We want to collectively make ourselves feel better, so hey, let’s lower the flags!

Only, let’s not. That honor should be reserved for the nation’s leaders, or for those who have served the country with great distinction. Otherwise lowering a flag really isn’t that much of an honor at all.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!


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