Nelson Mandela’s death last week seemed to unify people around the world as leaders from many nations mourned the great man’s passing. Even on Facebook, there are still posts popping up in the asking people to take a moment to remember the former South African president. President Obama issued an executive order to fly flags at half-staff, something that doesn’t happen very often for non U.S. citizens. Most people were happy to comply, with the exception of a sheriff’s department in South Carolina. According to the sheriff there, if you aren’t a U.S. citizen, he won’t lower his flag for you.
President Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from December 6 until sunset on December 9. Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark announced that he wouldn’t lower the flag at his sheriff’s office on Facebook:
I usually don’t post political items, but today is different. I received this notification today, “As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, the President orders that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff effective immediately until sunset, December 9, 2013”
Nelson Mandela did great things for his country and was a brave man but he was not an AMERICAN!!! The flag should be lowered at our Embassy in S. Africa, but not here. Our flag is at half staff today for a Deputy in the low country who died going to help his fellow Deputy. He deserves the honor. I have ordered that the flag here at my office back up after tomorrow’s mourning of Pearl Harbor Day!
Clark told The Greenville News that while he would lower the sheriff department’s flag to half-staff for Pearl Harbor Day, that he wouldn’t lower it for Nelson Mandela. He added to his Facebook post by saying “The flag at half-staff is for Americans’ ultimate sacrifice for our country. We should never stray away from that.”
While many people are outraged with Clark for refusing to lower the flag to half-staff, the Federal Flag Code doesn’t “prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement provisions.”
What do you think of the situation–is the South Carolina sheriff right to refuse to honor international leaders in this way? Add your comments below. As you can see from the Twitter posts below, many people are furious with Clark’s decision.
#Mandela I think Greenville SC Sheriff Rick Clark is a bigot. In my opinion, he would lower flag if asked by a White Republican president!
— Dee Pastorino (@Dede0808) December 8, 2013
— GiGi (@GinaMontana_) December 7, 2013
— leigh jones (@ljonesdmhsprin) December 7, 2013
[Image via WikiMedia Commons]