The U.S. flag atop the White House is finally flying at half-staff in remembrance of five service members who were killed in last week's Chattanooga, Tennessee shooting.
President Barack Obama issued an order Tuesday to lower the flag, following similar moves at the U.S. Capitol and even by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The president's order followed sharp criticism of Obama for failing to act sooner to honor the five service members.
House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday ordered the flags over the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff to honor the five service members killed last week in Chattanooga
"At sunrise, I ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be lowered to half-staff, out of respect for the courage and sacrifice of the five service members murdered in a terror attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee," Boehner said. "I am pleased to learn that, just hours later, the president decided to follow suit at the White House.
"Later today, the House of Representatives will also mark a moment of silence in memory of the fallen. This attack is a reminder that our men and women in uniform are under constant threat, no matter where they serve. We will continue to pray for their loved ones, as well as take action to support those who protect all Americans."
Trump ordered that the flags on his U.S. properties lowered to honor the five service members killed in last week's shooting. His campaign released a statement on Tuesday criticizing President Barack Obama for not ordering American flags lowered to honor the four marines and a sailor killed in the shooting.
Obama had offered his "deepest sympathies" to the families of those killed in the Chattanooga shootings, but did not order flags to fly at half-staff in their honor, until Tuesday.
On Thursday, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24-year-old Muslim and an electrical engineer, fired shots into a strip mall's recruiting office, then drove to a nearby Navy and Marine center, where he killed the five servicemen — four Marines and a sailor — before being shot dead by local police. The act is being investigated as a possible act of domestic terrorism.
Obama quickly ordered flags lowered after many of the nation's mass shootings, including after the attacks at the Washington Navy Yard, at Fort Hood, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but not in the wake of the latest shooting deaths involving servicemen, reports Stars and Stripes
"I don’t have more information about the status of the flag over the White House," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday. "I would anticipate that you'll hear the president discuss this a little bit more in his remarks to the VFW tomorrow."
Several states' governors, though, are ordering flags to fly at half-staff, including in Tennessee, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Massachusetts.
Joe Kasper, chief of staff for California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is seeking legislation that will allow military recruiters to be armed, criticized Obama for not issuing the order.
"They deserve our respect, and the significance of this event should be matched by the lowering of the flag," said Kasper. "It’s a simple gesture that will reaffirm to the military and millions of Americans that these servicemen will be rightly honored. This is one that shouldn’t take any second thought on the part of the White House."
Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, along with other members of the Tennessee delegation, are also seeking orders to end a ban on service members carrying guns on military sites, reports The Tennessean
DesJarlais joined in the criticism on Tuesday, telling Fox Business News that he "can't imagine" why the flags haven't been lowered nationwide.
In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam ordered flags to remain at half-staff until Friday to equal one business day for each of the five who were killed.
Meanwhile, a former Marine has issued a Facebook challenge
to fly the flag at half-staff to honor the fallen Marines and sailor on the website DCGazette.com.
"Most are fully aware of the president not showing support for our fallen and flags continue flying high in the sky," said the ex-Marine, Mike Shepard. "He invited the family of a traitor named Bergdahl to the Rose Garden to celebrate the release of our enemy. He has yet to call out the terrorist who shot up two recruiting stations in Chattanooga.
"Well, we don’t need permission to show our respect for those five lives lost. I am reaching out to you America in hopes that we teach Obama about respect," Shepard wrote.
He asked Americans to fly their flags at half-mast until July 30, which will mark the two-week anniversary of the shootings.
"Let’s show the president what it is to respect this country and our fallen," Shepard wrote. "If you drive by a business, please go in and ask they fly that flag at half mast. If we get the whole country to do it, the president might get the message."
Meanwhile, even as flags remain flying high, the Empire State building was lit up in green Friday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, complained anti-jihadist Pamela Geller in a Breitbart opinion piece
, another issue that has sparked complaints.
"Ramadan is the month in which Muslims renew their devotion to Allah, and violent jihad is a supreme act of devotion to Allah," she wrote. "Wherever your sympathies may lie, the idea that the Empire State Building would turn green for Eid not a day after five U.S. soldiers were murdered in cold blood in the cause of Islam on American soil is surrender. We have indeed been conquered.
"Wouldn’t it have been appropriate and respectful for the owners of the Empire State Building, in honor of our fallen heroes, if they had to commemorate Eid at all, to drape the Empire State Building in red, white and blue?"
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