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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Invalid Presidential Proclamation
Presidential Proclamation--Death of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, the Last Surviving American Veteran of World War I
Death of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles,
the Last Surviving American Veteran of World War I
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As a mark of respect for the memory of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, and in remembrance of the generation of American veterans of World War I, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that, on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day. I further direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
From what I have read, the president does not derive this authority from the Constitution (as he claims) or from the "Flag Code." The Code only gives him authority to half-staff it for deaths principal figures of government. Only Governors can declare half-staff for fallen members of the Armed Forces- and only then if they fall while on active duty. Corp. Buckles passing does not qualify in either case.
Without disrespecting Corp. Buckles, where does this president get off claiming authority that simply isn't his? And if he's claiming this authority, what other authority is he claiming that simply isn't his? What he does have authority to declare is a flag day, or a day of mourning or something like that. Half-staffing the flag is reserved for very few and specific reasons. So, while I think the passing of Corp. Buckles deserves recognition, this is not the appropriate way to do it.
Title 4, Chapter 1 pertains to the flag; Title 18, Chapter 33, Section 700 regards criminal penalties for flag desecration; Title 36, Chapter 3 pertains to patriotic customs and observances. This is the pertinent part (bolding mine):
a.The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this subsection —
1.the term "half-staff" means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
2.the term "executive or military department" means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code; and
3.the term "Member of Congress" means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.