Via ThinkProgress, some thoughts on the flag at half-staff by Sergeant Jim Wilt, a piece titled “Why don’t we honor our fallen servicemembers?”:
Following the deaths of 32 Virginia Tech students, the President of the United States ordered that all American flags be flown at half-staff for one week. …
But I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. servicemember.
Is the life of Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of our very own task force, killed April 20 in Helmand province not valued the same as these 32 students? Surely his death was as violent as the students.
Aalten’s death lacked the shock factor of the Virginia massacre. It is a daily occurrence these days to see X number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan scrolling across the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen. People have come to expect casualty counts in the nightly news; they don’t expect to see 32 students killed.
The emphasis there is from Think Progress. I would also highlight the closing words:
The U.S. flag is more than a piece of cloth. It is a symbol, a symbol which represents the people of America. Hundreds of thousands of men and women have died under our flag, preserving its people. When we honor the flag by saluting it, we are honoring what it stands for. We honor freedom, the people it represents and a way of life.
Isn’t it time our flag saluted back when a person makes the ultimate sacrifice? Shouldn’t the flag, which represents our society, tip its hat when someone dies to ensure it will fly another day?
While Sgt. Wilt’s question is about flags on Army bases, which are raised and lowered at the President’s orders, the question holds equally well for the flags flying everywhere.