State governors are stepping up to do President Obama’s job for him, lowering their flags to half-mast in honor of the Chattanooga dead.
Gov. Bill Haslam (R) swiftly ordered the flags of Tennessee lowered “in honor of those who were lost during the tragic acts of violence in Chattanooga.”
Fox News in Connecticut reports on the successful crusade of Marine Sergeant Tyler Misak to get his state’s flag lowered, by standing outside the State Capitol, holding a sign with the names of the fallen. Misak, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as working on the relief mission to Haiti, said he was “upset President Obama didn’t call for flags to be lowered right after the military members were killed on American soil.”
He therefore took matters into his own hands, undaunted by the challenge of wearing his uniform in the hot summer sun: “My comrades are sweating overseas right now defending this country and I’ll sweat with them.”
“My message is that every troop, their lives matter, they should have the honor to have the flags at half-staff,” said Misak, perhaps unaware of just how controversial sentiments such as “all lives matter” have become for the ruling Party of the United States.
On Monday afternoon, Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, did indeed order both U.S. and state flags lowered. “Connecticut and the nation stands with the people of Tennessee and the many communities that have been devastated by this tragedy,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims as they are laid to rest – and with the states across the nation who are mourning the loss of their citizens.”
“I’m lost for words,” Sgt. Misak responded. “I’m really proud the state was able to come through…and do the right thing and honor those service members.”
Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (R) ordered his state’s flags lowered to half-staff at sunrise on Friday, according to the Boston Herald. One of the slain Marines, Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, was from Springfield. “Terror comes home to Massachusetts. God bless Tom Sullivan and his family and friends,” the Governor wrote on his Facebook page.
Another of the Marines, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, hailed from Arkansas, where Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) ordered flags lowered from sunrise to sunset on Monday. Hutchinson also authorized Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General Mark Berry to arm full-time military personnel, according to Arkansas Online.
“Our hearts break at the news of another senseless act of violence and terror, this time out of Chattanooga,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Our prayers go out to all the families of the victims, especially the family of Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Russellville, one of Arkansas’s own.”
Governor Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin, home of murdered Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist, ordered his state’s flags lowered on Friday. “Tonette and I send our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of all of those affected by this senseless act of violence. We honor the memory of Sergeant Carson Holmquist, and we will never forget the courage and sacrifice he displayed serving this great country,” said the Governor.
On Tuesday, Governor Walker issued an executive order to arm Wisconsin National Guard members while they are on duty. “Safety must be our top priority, especially in light of the horrific attack in Chattanooga,” he said.
Governor Pat McCrory (R) ordered North Carolina flags to half-staff over the weekend. “We are eternally grateful for the risks and sacrifices the men and women of our military bear each time they put on the uniform, regardless of where they serve,” said McCrory, in a statement quoted by WCTI News. “All of North Carolina is heartbroken over the tragedy in Chattanooga. We are praying for the victims and their families, as well as for the safety of every American soldier, marine, airman, sailor and those serving in the Coast Guard, here in North Carolina and throughout the world.”
McCrory also told his state’s Department of Public Safety and National Guard to step up security at recruiting and training centers. “We will be vigilant in protecting those who protect us,” he said. “These men and women are putting their lives on the line to serve our country and it’s our responsibility to ensure everything that is within our power to do for their safety is done.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) ordered flags lowered on Monday, which wasn’t fast enough for some in the state, according to WINK News. “Monday morning, Collier County Commissioner Georgia Hiller told WINK News she wanted to know why it hadn’t already been done. The commissioner brought up the issue during a special meeting of the board. All of the commissioners voted unanimously to take the issue to the governor,” the station reports.
Governor Scott had previously ordered Florida National Guard recruiters to “leave storefront recruiting offices and report to the nearest National Guard Armory while the state reviews security at off-base recruiting centers,” as reported by the Naples Herald.
Some officials below the gubernatorial level have also taken the initiative to order flags lowered, such as Mayor Sal Panto (D) of Easton, Pennsylvania. “It was the right thing to do,” said Panto on Saturday, as reported by Lehigh Valley Live. “Sometimes the inappropriate thing is the right thing. I’m sure the president just forgot.”
“I’m fully aware I don’t have the authority to do this but I feel I just had to remind the president,” Panto continued. “He just needed a little reminder and I’m happy to do that. There’s so many other things going on. I don’t think he realized that this was something that he should do.”
With all due respect to Mayor Panto, if he seriously believes President Obama – who is surrounded by a titanic entourage that would shame the imperial monarchs of old – simply “forgot” to lower the flags, he needs professional help.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., House Speaker John Boehner (R) ordered Capitol flags to half-staff on Tuesday. For the moment, that means the Capitol has lowered its flags, while the White House has not, which would throw more cold water on Mayor Panto’s novel “silly President just plumb forgot” theory.
Update: On Tuesday afternoon, the White House finally bowed to mounting criticism and ordered flags lowered to half-staff.