President Barack Obama ordered flags in the United States lowered to half-staff
in memory of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday
at age 95, but one South Carolina sheriff says he won't comply.
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Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says that although Mandela "did great things for his country," the honor should be reserved for American citizens, Fox News reports
"It's just my simple opinion that the flag should only be lowered to half-staff for Americans who sacrificed for their country," Clark told CNN affiliate WHNS.
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"I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country but not for our country," he told Fox Carolina
. "It should be the people who have sacrificed for our country."
Mandela, who fought racial segregation laws in South Africa, was imprisoned for 27 years. He later became the country's first democratically elected black president and declined to take revenge on those who had imprisoned him.
The Flag Code gives presidents the power to order flags nationwide flown at half-staff, but there is no penalty for noncompliance.
Clark said in a Facebook post he would fly the flag at his office at half-staff on Friday for a South Carolina law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty and on Saturday for Pearl Harbor Day, but that the flag would be raised to full-staff Sunday morning.
Despite the sheriff's protestation, U.S. flags have been lowered for non-Americans since 1961, when they were lowered at the death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold. They also have been lowered for former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, and Pope John Paul II.
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