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You’ve probably seen outraged social media posts and headlines about the White House flag lately, most of which go something like this: President Barack Obama ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff to mourn Whitney Houston’s death, but failed to do so for the five soldiers slain in Chattanooga, Tenn.
This perceived breach of flag etiquette sparked a flurry of memes on the Internet and jabs on the campaign trail, particularly among conservatives and GOP presidential hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump. Fox News columnist Todd Starnes suggested the race of the victims was a factor in Obama not lowering the flag.
Did Obama really lower the White House flag for Whitney Houston? And was it unusual for him not to lower to half-staff in honor of the fallen servicemen?
Interview with Mike Buss, Iowa program director at The American Legion, July 21, 2015
Interview with John Harvigsen, president of the North American Vexillological Association, July 21, 2015
Interview with Jim Ferrigan, protocol officer of the North American Vexillological Association, July 21, 2015
Interview with Al Ulmer, owner of the National Capitol Flag Company, July 21, 2015
Email interview with Gary Biggs, founding partner at the Protocol Partners, July 21, 2015
Speaker of the House, ‘House of Representatives to Honor Five Service Members Killed in Chattanooga, Flags Fly at Half-Staff,’ July 21, 2015
White House, ‘Presidential Proclamation -- Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Chattanooga, Tennessee,’ July 21, 2015
Fox News, ‘Obama orders flags lowered to honor Tennessee victims, after criticism,’ July 21, 2015
Twitter, Ted Cruz tweet, July 21, 2015
Facebook, Donald J. Trump post, July 21, 2015
Fox News, ‘Todd Starnes: Do the right thing, Mr. President — lower the flag,’ July 20, 2015
Twitter, Curt Schilling, July 20, 2015
Snopes, Flag Flap, July 19, 2015
Snopes, Flag Flap, February 13, 2014
Snopes, Greene Report, March 19, 2015
USA Today, ‘Chris Christie criticized for Whitney Houston flag plan,’ Feb. 12, 2016
Politico, ‘White House mourns Whitney Houston’, Feb. 13, 2012
Cornell University Law School, 4 U.S. Code § 7 - Position and manner of display, accessed July 21, 2015
HalfStaff.Org, United States of America Half Staff Status, July 21, 2015
White House, various proclamations, accessed July 21, 2015