Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just put the flag at half staff every day

On my way home from picking up the kids at school today, I noticed that flags were at half staff. I racked my brain trying to think if it was the anniversary of something horrific, but I came up with nothing. When I got home, I searched and found out that it was to honor the memory of the late Dorothy Height, a person of such importance in the Civil Rights movement that I had never heard of her before. When somebody major dies, the blogosphere usually erupts in eulogies and posts. I hadn't heard anything about her death, even though it was more than a week ago. Norman Borlaug got more blog-love at his passing, and he was also a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient as well as a Nobel Laureate, but I don't recall President Obama lowering the flags to half-staff for him.

Since I don't really know who Dorothy Height is, I'll grant that since they don't give the Presidential Medal of Freedom out in cereal boxes, she was probably a good person who made a large and positive contribution to the world. But flags at half staff? Really? Have we really lost such a valuable national treasure that the flags have to go to half staff?

If we're going to lower the flag to half-staff for the death of everybody who was really really nice, why bother having a whole staff? I think we ought to save our days of national mourning for the truly extraordinary. The deaths of presidents: yes. National tragedies: of course. But the passing of really good people? The flags outside nursing homes would never reach the top if we flew flags at half-staff for that.