Obama lowers White House flag

President Obama has ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to fly at half-staff after mounting criticism over the delay in honoring five armed forces members killed last week by a gunman.

Obama's proclamation calls for the flags to remain at half-staff through Saturday “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on July 16.”

ADVERTISEMENT
“Our thoughts and prayers as a Nation are with the service members killed last week in Chattanooga. We honor their service. We offer our gratitude to the police officers and first responders who stopped the rampage and saved lives,” Obama said in a presidential proclamation released Tuesday.

“We draw strength from yet another American community that has come together with an unmistakable message to those who would try to do us harm: We do not give into fear. You cannot divide us. And you will not change our way of life.”

Obama announced his decision hours after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Ahead of Obama's decision, conservatives lined up to pan the president for failing to lower the flag. They noted that various governors around the country have done so and that the White House had lowered its flags after other mass shootings. 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, issued a statement earlier Tuesday asking Obama to do the “right thing” by lowering the flags. And Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, panned Obama as well.

“Five service members were killed on American soil, and the idea that the Commander in Chief is so far unwilling to lower flags in their honor is unconscionable,” he said.

“The flag and all it represents is sacred to our military, and the President must know that lowering the flag is a signal of honor and respect.  The President should make this call immediately.”

Marcus Luttrell, a retired Navy SEAL whose story became the bestselling book Lone Survivor and a movie starring Mark Wahlberg, also took to Facebook on Monday night to call on the president to lower the flag.