In recent decades, presidents have ordered the American flag to be flown at half-staff much more frequently than in the past. To some extent, this tracks with the times, as the nation has become older, less bold, and feminized, and therefore more entitled and emotional. Of course, the flag should be put at half staff in times of extraordinary national tragedy such as the Orlando massacre. It is entirely fitting and proper to honor those innocents senselessly slaughtered, but it should be a rare and sober decision to lower the flag- or it eventually devalues the very act of doing so.
President Obama has ordered the lowering of the nation’s flags to half-staff more often than any president in the country’s history. This is not a desirable record. He has issued 66 proclamations to lower the banners since 2009, already 8 and 16 more times than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, respectively, the only two other presidents to ever order the flags to half-mast on 50 or more occasions.
No death or calamity is “routine,” and our hearts and prayers go out to the families of anyone affected by such occasions, but the Star Spangled Banner should not be lowered except for national tragedies, to honor a lifetime of service by a truly historic and exceptional figure; or in the case of the death of a former president.
In light of his policies, it is no wonder that this president’s tenure in office has been marked by repeated terrorist attacks, among other calamities. It is sad to see the nation’s flag flown nearly continuously at half-mast. The country’s attitude and demeanor tends to mirror the position of the flag. The Stars and Stripes should not long be in mournful pose.
That said, maybe the flag should have been permanently placed at half-staff on November 4th, 2008.