US sheriff refuses to lower flag in Nelson Mandela`s honour
A sheriff in the US has refused to lower the national flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, contending that the honour should be reserved only for Americans.
Washington: A sheriff in the US has refused to lower the national flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, contending that the honour should be reserved only for Americans.
US President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff for the international icon until sunset Monday.
But, Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark has refused flying the American flag at half-staff in his department.
"It`s just my simple opinion that the flag should only be lowered to half-staff for Americans who sacrificed for their country," Clark was quoted as saying by CNN affiliate WHNS.
It should be lowered at the US Embassy in South Africa but not at home, he contended.
"I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country but not for our country. It should be the people who have sacrificed for our country," Clark said.
Though rare, the lowering of flags in the US for foreign citizens is nothing new.
George W Bush did it for Pope John Paul II eight years ago. So did Bill Clinton, when former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in the 1990s.
In fact, the practice goes as far back as 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson ordered flags lowered for former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
But not all world leaders get the honour.
This year, Obama issued a statement expressing his condolences for the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But he did not order the flag lowered.
American presidents can issue the executive order at their discretion, the Flag Code states.
In general, presidents reserve the honour for major national figures, including governors and foreign dignitaries.
The code says it`s only a guide and it does not offer penalties for non-compliance.