PICKENS, SC – The U.S. flag flies at half-staff over the White House and just about everywhere else in country to pay tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela who died last week.
But Sheriff Rick Clark in Pickens County, South Carolina, isn’t going along with it.
“As a show, a sign of respect for what Nelson Mandela’s done, I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country,” explained Clark.
And that’s why the U.S. and South Carolina flags above the Pickens County Law Enforcement Center remain at full-staff.
The death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 was the last time the flag was lowered for a foreign leader. George w. Bush ordered that one.
The first time we did it was back in 1965 on the death of former British prime minister Winston Churchill. Lyndon Johnson, another Texan, ordered that one.
Ronald Reagan did it for murdered Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.
And Bill Clinton did it twice, in 1995 for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, and in 1999 for Jordan’s King Hussein.
Sometimes it’s a delicate balance between patriotism and respect, which may be why we don’t have laws about flying the flag, only rules.