CNN – A South Carolina sheriff is refusing to lower the American flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the honor should be reserved for American citizens.
President ObamaÂ ordered flags loweredÂ to half-staff for the international icon until sunset Monday.
But Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says not 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 toldÂ CNN affiliate WHNS
“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.”
Mandela became the symbol of the fight against racial discrimination in South Africa, and served 27 years behind bars for defying the apartheid government. He died Thursday at age 95.
Though rare, the lowering of flags for foreign citizens is nothing new.
George W. Bush did it forÂ Pope John Paul II eight years ago.Â 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 loweredÂ for former British Prime MinisterÂ Winston Churchill.Â But not all world leaders get the honor.
This year, Obama issued a statement expressing his condolences for the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But heÂ did not order the flag lowered.
American presidents can issue theÂ executive order at their discretion,Â the Flag Code states. In general, presidents reserve the honor for major national figures, including governors and foreign dignitaries.
The code says it’s only a guide and it does not offer penalties for noncompliance.
Reading through the comments, he is what one contributor said. . .a typical American bigot.
Lowering the American flag for Mandela was, in my opinion, a completely wrong thing to do. This is America, not South Africa. Instead, the world’s flags should have been lowered for the 72nd anniversary (December 7, 1941) of Pearl Harbor and the American lives lost during WW2 due to saving the entire world (includingÂ allÂ of Africa) from tyranny. The “Greatest Generation” did more than Mandela could ever dream of doing and I, for one, will not bow down to him. There is too much murkiness surrounding his efforts and the real results on the ground. Right now, I think many are experiencing some strange, media-induced euphoria about this man.
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