The United States flags at the White House and the United States Capitol are being lowered to half-staff by Tuesday afternoon. The Obama administration had been severely criticized for not lowering the flag sooner. Naturally, it was felt by many that it was disrespectful not to lower the flags in honor of the five U.S. service members who were killed in Chattanooga last week, according to CNN on Tuesday.
The announcement of the lowering of the flags came from the United States House of Representatives’ Speaker John Boehner and the United States Senate’s Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Both politicians are Republican.
Boehner stated that the flags at the U.S. Capitol are being lowered to half-staff out of respect for the deceased military persons’ courageous service and sacrifice to the nation. A short distance away, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the flags at the White House were still flying at full-staff. Boehner’s office contacted the White House to let personnel there know that Congress’ flag was going to be lowered.
Reported previously, President Barack Obama’s aides had repeatedly refused to discuss the lowering of the flags to honor the five deceased military persons. In fact, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday:
I don’t have more information about the status of the flag over the White House.
Without Democratic support on the measure, Republicans have demanded that the White House immediately do as the Capitol has done by agreeing to lower the flag as well. Finally, sometime on Tuesday, President Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House at noon. It is common knowledge that the president endured severe criticism before finally agreeing to honor the military men who died last week in Chattanooga by lowering the flag.
One of the critics speaking out before Obama finally relented and lowered the flag was House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry. Prior to Obama agreeing to lower the flag, Thornberry said:
The President should follow suit and order flags flown at half-staff across the country, and he should do so immediately.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who is a 2016 presidential candidate also lambasted Obama for the flags not being flown at half-staff in honor of the dead. He messaged on Twitter:
Capitol’s flag at half-staff today to honor the servicemen killed by a terrorist in Chattanooga. Meanwhile at the White House <followed by a picture of the White House’s flag flying at full-staff.>
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who still leads in the polls with nearly one-quarter of GOP voters supporting him, ordered that United States flags at his corporate properties be lowered to half-staff. Trump said that it is a simple yet meaningful and important gesture that signifies our respect and recognition for these great soldiers who lost their lives. He continued, “We must do better for all Americans, especially our military. We must Make America Great Again.”
Obama eventually paid tribute to the four Marines and sailor who were killed in Chattanooga by 24-year-old Mohammad Abdulazeez who was from Hixson, Tennessee according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars when he said, “We honor our five service members killed so senselessly in Chattanooga.” After that brief statement, he also mentioned the courage of the authorities who engaged in stopping the rampage.