People upset over half-staff flags for Whitney Houston

Published: Feb. 17, 2012 at 4:22 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2012 at 6:18 PM CST
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ADVANCE, MO (KFVS) - Some people in the Heartland are upset at the idea of flying American flags at half-staff in honor of Whitney Houston.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is ordering flags in his state to be flown at half-staff in honor of Whitney Houston on Saturday, the day of her funeral. He says he's not honoring her as a role model, but a daughter of New Jersey.

And that's making some people upset.

"It's supposed to be honorable, and if they're going to use it on just anybody, what's the honor in it," said James Burnett.

Burnett and his wife Cheri aren't happy with the decision to fly flags at half staff in honor of Houston.

"She was a beautiful woman, and had a beautiful voice, sang a bunch of songs," said Burnett.

"What did she do for the country other than sing," said Cheri Burnett.

The Burnett's son, SPC James Burnett Jr., died while serving in Afghanistan. To honor him, the state of Missouri flew a flag at half-staff at the Capitol building for a day, and in Wayne County for ten days.

"They called and said we want to do this, what do you think, and we said we love it," said Cheri Burnett.

"I was pretty shook up at the time, I was glad to see that they done it, I was glad to see that they flew flags half staff for him," said James Burnett. "They even flew a flag half staff up here at the town square in Advance for him."

"It was a proud moment for me, and it was also a moment where I knew somebody's going to see this and go I wonder why those flags are at half staff, I wonder who died," said Cheri Burnett.

"He served his country the only way he knowed how and he received pretty high honors for it," said James Burnett.

John Konopka is a veteran, and lives in Cape Girardeau. He is also upset by the half-staff flag order for Houston.

"I was disgusted that they would put a flag up for an actress or put it up at half staff," said Konopka.

He says he feels like veterans don't get the respect they deserve.

"I have a lot of friends, actually quite a few that were killed over in Iraq, they don't get, their families don't get the honors that some of these celebrities are getting right now," said Konopka.

Honors that Konopka, and the Burnetts, think should be reserved for a special group of people.

"I always thought it was something reserved for the fallen, or heads of state," said James Burnett.

When flying a flag at half staff, first raise it to full staff, then lower it.

The American Flag cannot fly lower than any other flag.

The President decides when flags are flown at half-staff on Federal buildings, the state's Governor for state and local buildings.

Half-staff and half-mast are actually different things. A staff is used to fly a flag on land, and a ship's mast is used to fly a flag at sea.

It's flown at half-staff:

Thirty days after the death of a President or former President.

Ten days after the death of a Vice President, the Chief of Justice or a retired Chief of Justice, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On the day of, and the day after the death of a member of Congress.

Memorial day- half staff from sunrise to noon, then full staff till sunset

Patriot Day (Sept. 11) –sunrise to sunset

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7th)-sunrise to sunset

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