Sound Off: Why Did It Take So Long to Fly the Flags at Half-Staff?



In the wake of the Chattanooga, TN shootings last Thursday, the White House didn’t order flags to be flown at half-staff at government buildings across the nation, nor did President Obama’s administration offered any explanation for the decision. The administration reversed course just after noon on Monday and the flags are now at half-staff

President Obama previously ordered flags to be lowered after the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood in Texas, and Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut and President George W. Bush ordered flags to be lowered for six days after 32 people were murdered in an attack at Virginia Tech in April 2007.

Five service members were killed by 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who first fired into an Army recruiting office in a strip mall and then attacked a Navy and Marine Corps recruiting center just a few miles away

President Obama did offer condolences before the fifth service member died: “My main message right now is, obviously, the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed,” he said. “It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion.”

The president is speaking later today at the National VFW Convention in Pittsburgh before flying to New York to appear on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, so perhaps he’ll offer some insight today.

Here’s the question, though: is there any possible reason for not lowering the flag in honor of service members killed on American soil? Or should the White House be condemned for not showing respect for the fallen? Does the decision to lower the flags today fix the problem? Sound off!

  • steve

    what makes their deaths any more important than those of all the servicemen that lost their lives (in combat no less) during past wars when flags were not flown half mast, im sure that they will receive all the services and honors that all service members receive

    • Jake

      This military is supposed to fight and die in combat, it’s what we train for and are willing to do. These types of things aren’t supposed to happen in our back yards from some kid with an AR. That’s why it’s a tragedy and that’s why this is different.

      • Jim

        noooo We train so we can let the other assclown die for THEIR country…..we just set the conditions…..and yes it happening here on AMERICAN soil is truly a tragedy, but our legislators Set the conditions by keeping our men and women unarmed for all these years, it was bound to happen….

    • Taylor

      The way I see it Steve, is that the military servicemen and women know that there is a chance that they won’t survive overseas, but here at home they should feel completely protected and free from terrorism. It doesn not make their deaths more important, but it does act as a cause to raise awareness to the disasters happenening today that are being condoned by our commander in chief.

    • Phillip Smith

      Steve, you must really love Obama. Really what is the DIFFERENCE???. They were killed in the USA by a Terrorist, YES I SAID TERRORIST. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen/women know there is a chance they might die in combat, but not dying like these 5 men did.

    • Wtf

      That’s right. The military should be armed. Anyone who disagrees, is disagreeing just to be a dik-fore

    • shipfixr

      They aren’t but, by the same token, are they any LESS important than those killed at Fort Hood (for example) when the administration DID order the flags to half-mast??

  • Dan

    I believe that the WH only lowered the flag today because he was going to talk today at a VFW conference. No other reason. Racism, bias and prejudice are described by the WH, YET OVER 6 years actual actions show a pattern of “selective” response to situations. The WH does not support the military in his heart, he only does so when it is politically expedient to do so or matches his agenda and partisan ideology.

    • Earl

      You are spot on! Its all about his ego…and he didn’t want the negative comments that he would have been confronted with had he not directed the flags be lowered.

    • skip

      You got that right!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • donnie

    The last I heard he hadn’t even contacted the families but he after Ferunson. Go figure.

    • Rebecca Samuels

      I voted for him twice due to slim pickings on Republican side.

      He showed a lack of courage and commitment with his famous Red Line in the Sand speech to Syria resulting in America looking cowardly and juvenile.
      Now this horrendous deal with Iran takes the cake. To me it looks as if he’s supporting the Iran regime.
      Doing nothing would’ve been better. It’s obvious he’s not our friend or the Israelis.

      Now he wants to bypass Congress. I say NO effing way.
      Please contact your Congressmen to tell the president to kill this deal which only benefits Iran.

    • Rebecca

      Maybe because none of the Marines were black?

      • Josh

        Are you serious ?

      • Bob Balent

        Could be true

      • Rob

        You write to Congress. Don’t come begging to the rest of us after you admit to voting for him after what happened in Benghazi. You voted for the ass clown twice.

        You are part of the problem.

    • Muttling

      “but he after Ferunson” …….It is obvious that you are a product of the American educational system. I’m guessing Bush 43’s No Child Left Behind.

  • Jerry

    The President has shown time and again he doesn’t care! He and his administration act like a self gratuitous self licking ice cream cone. Their too busy patting themselves on the back for botched political gain. You shouldn’t expect anymore than what we’re getting. I think is fear of being booed by the VFW today caused him to lower them today!

    • Ann

      Well Said!!!

  • David Rollins

    You know damn well as a member of the VFW and the American Legion, he will be BOOED!

    • Marco

      He actually got a standing ovation. I watched it.

      • retired462

        It’s sad! They should have canceled his appearance!

  • Ron

    Should not be flying at half staff as they were doing nothing more than what a soldier is supposed to, and not proven yet it was not a crazy but a terrorist.

    • cybersp00k

      Ron, they weren’t in combat. They weren’t armed. And you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Ed L.

      Ron, apparently you must be either a draft dodger or a complete idiot to even think something like that, much less say it.


      “doing nothing more than what a soldier is supposed to” Sorry, but I soundly disagree. Those five men were doing a job, recruiting, in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, not in some “warzone”. We ARE AT WAR, RIGHT HERE ON AMERICAN SOIL” and the a$$hole in the White House, knows it, but he WILL NOT call the enemy by the rightful name “radical MUSLIMS”.

  • USMC0846

    There is no doubt this has been poorly handled. The policy on lowered flags ought to be a fixed and certain policy, it currently is not. I could accept not lowering the flags, but to do so now, after all the carping about it looks as if the WH just capitulated to pressure. Looks bad IMHO. No matter what this WH does it evokes an endless stream of invective and bitching….frankly in the absence of a fixed policy they should have just let this all lay, it would have blown over in time…now by lowering the flags late they have just insured a longer and more unpleasant stream of nastiness.

    • JAYHO

      Title 4 of the United States Code, which outlines the role of flag of the United States, specifies occasions on which all government buildings, offices, public schools, and military bases are to fly their flags at half-staff, occasions which include the deaths of presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, justices of the Supreme Court, and state governors. As well, the President of the United States may issue proclamations directing U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff on other occasions, as was done in recent years for the death of Pope John Paul II, the interment of Frank Buckles (the last surviving American World War I veteran), the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s final mission (who died when the ship disintegrated during re-entry), the funeral of astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the shootings at Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, the Century Aurora theater, and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

      • “As well, the President of the United States may issue proclamations directing U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff on other occasions..” I am aware of Title 4, it is this line as quoted above that I was addressing….the “other occasions” issue. How does one establish an informal code or set of circumstances that define the use of “other occasions” ? That was my point.

  • Gary

    Which is why I think that it should be a requirement to serve for 4 or more years in the military in order to be come President of the United States

    • cm1js

      Maybe then bush wouldn’t have gone awol from the national guard.

    • Rai

      Amen !

  • Jim Smith

    You haters make me sick. You know nothings blame POTUS for everything. Well here’s the truth. The Pentagon declared the Soldiers were killed in the line of duty. The flag is never lowered for troops killed in the line of duty unless the governors’ of the states order the flags on government buildings lowered.
    Here’s your sign !

    • Ron

      How do you die in the line of duty when you can not protect yourself? However The POTUS can order to have the flags at half staff for the deaths of Whitney Houston? Come on.

      • Joe

        Actually that is not true…The flags were only flown half staff in New Jersey by order of Governor Chris Christie…not saying Obama didn’t make an egregious mistake in the fact that he will order half staff for civilians, but not for Military killed by a terrorist attack on native soil…but it was all strategically planned again because as everyone argued about the flag, he had Kerry allow the preliminary voting on the Iran U.N. Resolution proceed…the first step in U.N. Ratification without the say of Congress.

        This Administration has been littered with “wag the dog” scenarios from the start…from ” we have to pass it to find out what’s in it”…to private email servers…we have had by far the least transparent administration in several generations.

        I am not arguing against you…but please if you are going to state something, make sure it really was Obama that did it.

      • randycarpadus

        That never happened but thanks for believing everything you see on Faux.

      • Beego

        Happened here at Fort Gordon GA, lowered for Whitney Houston. I work here and saw it myself, even got the govt. email explaining that it was for here. So quit ingesting that MSNBC garbage and live in the real world

      • Pat

        Check your facts. Flags were NOT lowered for Whitney Houston other than in her home state by the governor.

    • Mike

      The governors did make that order!!

    • Tammy

      You know what? You, sir, are a dick! Those of you who think this man, the President, (if that’s what you want to call him) can do no wrong, MAKES ME SICK! As far as blaming him for everything – not everything – just 90% of it! When he picks and chooses who to lower the flags for, when to trade 5 of our Gitmo prisoners for 1 of THEIR fighters (Bergdahl – because he sure wasn’t fighting for us) then he causes a bigger divide in our nation, neighbor against neighbor. The President is suppoed to do what is right for us, the American people, and unite the nation, not tear it apart.

      • Bob Balent

        Boy do you have that right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Machyn

    The fact that it was a terrorist who killed them on American soil is horrific. He should have lowered them sooner. It shouldn’t have taken a lot of complaints to get them to finally lower it. He just did it to get people off his back.

  • cm1js

    Come on. You people can’t be this stupid. Any regulation from any president happened a hell of a long time before obama was in office. Of any office. I started my career in the 60’s and never was allowed any weapon drawn out of the armory unless it was for prisoner escort or in a war zone. The largest share of you haven’t liked obama from the friggin start so tell the damn truth. If he farts its because he ate to much of the taxpayers food. You make me ashamed to call myself a veteran

  • CM

    The men were doing their jobs, thus their duty, when they were killed. Ordering the flag at half mast means the president must choose whose death is worthy of the honor. In my personal opinion, the flag at half mast or full mast doesn’t matter to me. It’s a nice gesture, but one that the majority of Americans and their chronically short attention spans will not remember for long. This argument does nothing to remember these men, it doesn’t help find a solution to the problem of terrorism, and it damn sure doesn’t bring a divided country together. This crying about the position of the flag is ridiculous and merely politicizes the deaths of these men, and that to me is the ultimate disgrace. Now take your motrin, drink water and drive on.

  • Sgt1833

    Veterans, you should know better…and educate the civilians. The Colors are not to be lowered when vets die in the line of duty. They are to be flown half-mast on Memorial Day for half the day then raised to its place of honor. State Governors can have certain flags lowered…
    Don’t be swayed and give-in to society’s ignorance. Act like men.

    • sandy

      Thank you. I was trying to find the protocol for the flag at half staff. There were several, but none that could be forwarded to Facebook. I am deeply saddened that these fine men died. I can not believe the hate spewed in this thread. Instead of grieving for the families of these fine men, so many have tried to incite more hate for the president. Unfortunately, if the flag were lowered for every military person that dies, on or off our soil, IT WILL NEVER SEE FULL HEIGHT again. One of the last surviving soldiers of Pearl Harbor, died about a year ago. Should it have been flown then? Past and present are dying daily.

    • R Streiber

      In addition to flying the flag at half staff for government officials, etc, the president may order half staff display after other tragic events. I consider the Chatanooga event as tragic. Ret MSG

  • Bonnie

    From what I read prior to today, the reason given was that these servicemen died in the line of duty, as many others have also done. The flag is not routinely lowered half staff for servicemen or women dying in the line of duty. All the other incidents listed, even the shooting at Ft. Hood, involved the murder of civilians. To have ordered the flag to be lowered to half mast for these servicemen dying in the line of duty would mean that the president was picking and choosing among military personnel who have died in the line of duty. I don’t for one minute think that the president doesn’t care or is not very disturbed by the loss of the lives of these men who died while serving our country. As far as lowering the flag today, I think that was probably in response to the fact that the flag was lowered at the Capitol building and therefore, the White House wanted to be in sync with the Capitol.

    • Ken Kline

      if they were on duty then why weren’t they armed… they are Marines

      • sandy

        It was a DOD (Dept of Defense) Directive 5210.56, Feb 25, 1992 that disarmed military personal. The reasons varied as to why it should happen … one was to prevent accidental shootings. another was that if they were armed it would look like we have a “police state” in US with uniformed personnel l walking around with guns.
        (Yeah right!) in my sarcastic tone.

  • Bill

    What a bunch of haters…..

    • bart ninja

      yes obama is a hater…

  • armyairborne72

    O-bozo is the reason he is anti-military and shows no real respect to service members!

  • jim smith

    This president will leave office 16 months. I will not be surprise what he will do to bring this country even further down lets elect a conservative president senate and house.

  • Ken

    Governor Christie of NJ ordered flag to half staff tomorrow to honor the 5, but he’s running for president. When Whitney Huston died he had flags at 1/2 staff the next day. Guess you have to be a drug addict to get flags at half staff.

  • Steve

    For those who have never spent anytime serving, one can never appreciate the sacrifice made by the less than 1% that protect the 99%. The 99% also will never understand that no servicemember should ever go out in that way. I hate to use something that comes from a movie, but here goes..there should be two types of people in our nation, citizens and civilians. For those that don’t know the difference, citizens can run for office and vote, civilians cannot, other than that everything else remains the same. Now some are saying well I am a citizen, well I hate to tell you the 1% who serve are the only citizens of this great nation. Take it for what it’s worth, but unless the military steps in to defend the constitution against all enemy’s foreign and “domestic” we will become a footnote in history..and yes the oath we take is defend just that, the constitution and only that..OUT FRONT! AIR CAV….



  • Marc

    Standards and our flag are to flown high in their honor. Not the other way around. This is classic misinformation. When a service member dies, it is incumaant on the next to carry the flag and march it forward. Blue field forward as we advance to the objective. Good on him for flying it half staff, however, I believe it is for the annual VfW convention. The President has plenty of advisers that are well versed in protocol. These Marines were in fact ready to die for their country if it meant dying. I as a retired Staff non-commissioned officer, can tell you they would not have wanted half staff. Note: Honor them how YOU wish too, there is no right or wrong way or timeline to do so. R/Marc

  • TeXan

    Obama hates amerika! We need a president who loves amerika so much they would join the military.. I believe every one of the Republican nominees have served. Why don’t we elect them??

  • deecee

    If the flag is at half mast for every person killed “in the line of duty” it will be at “half” most of the time. Each of the men’s home states has the choice, but is it really a national choice? They will have all military honors and the nation will mourn with their families. Now, it is time to set guidelines for this action so this does not happen again and pressure any president to have to make the decision. Listen up, Reps. Your constituents are telling you something., again.

  • Jack

    Because Obama has no respect for the military.

  • BobSacamano

    Obama doesn’t have an original thought in his head and explains why he has to be shamed into doing anything that’s proper, albeit he doesn’t hesitate to do the wrong thing, as if he enjoys it!