orlando shooting missouri county

Orlando Shooting: Missouri County Refused To Lower Flags To Half-Mast To Honor Victims

Following the horrific Orlando shooting at Pulse, a known gay club, that left 49 people dead, a Missouri county refused to honor President Obama’s order that U.S. flags be flown at half-mast as “a mark of respect for the victims.” Rather, Officials in Cole County, Missouri, decided that the order from the POTUS didn’t apply to them, and they opted out of honoring the (presumably gay) Orlando shooting victims.

The Missouri county is governed by a three-member commission, and it was this group that voted 2-1 against lowering the American flag in their county to honor the people who died in the Orlando shooting terrorist attack, reports ThinkProgress. In response to the Orlando shooting, the Missouri county commissioners said that they are the ones who control how flags are displayed in the county and when they are lowered. Jeff Hoelscher, a Republican and one of the three commissioners in the Missouri county, simply didn’t feel that it was appropriate to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting, because when flags are lowered too much, it “takes away from the honor.”

“Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don’t feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered.”

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Another commissioner in the Missouri county, Commissioner Kris Scheperle (also a Republican) concurred with this co-worker. According to Scheperle, the Orlando shooting massacre, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, simply didn’t “rise to the occasion” of lowering the American flag to half-mast, saying we can’t “lower it for every event like this.” Never mind that there has never been another event of this magnitude in the United States, and citizens of the nation and world are hoping and praying that another such event never occurs.

“I want to honor those who have served our country, but we can’t lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don’t think it warrants lowering the flag.”

Neither of the dissenting Missouri county commissioners were willing to extrapolate any further as to why they didn’t believe the victims of the Orlando shooting terror attack deserved to be honored. The Orlando shooting at Pulse was the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

According to federal law, the flag must be lowered to half-staff following the death of “foreign dignitaries” or “other officials,” or “according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.”

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the flags across the country (including this Missouri county) were ordered flown at half-mast for five days. Subsequently, President George W. Bush also ordered in 2007 that the U.S. flag be flown at half-mast every September 11 to come.

U.S. flags are also flown at half-mast every December 7, which is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

There has been no word from the Missouri county commissioners regarding whether or not they think that those occasions also “take(s) away from the honor” of flying the U.S. flag at half-mast.

Presumably, unlike in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, these Missouri county commissioners don’t refuse to lower their flags on September 11 and December 7 every year.

So what could it be about the 49 victims of the the worst mass shooting in American history that make them unworthy to have the flag lowered in their honor? The Missouri county commissioners have refused to expand on why they’ve balked at the POTUS’ order to lower their flags.

Ironically, the refusal of the Missouri county to lower its flags to honor the Orlando shooting dead comes on June 14 — Flag Day.

[Update]

Following public outcry and widespread outrage over the Missouri county commissioners’ refusal to lower the county’s American flags to honor the Orlando shooting dead, the commission changed its collective mind late on Tuesday.

The flags in the Missouri county have now been lowered to half-mast, as ordered by the president, to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub; so far the Missouri commissioners have refused to further explain why they refused to lower the flags or why they changed their mind.

[Image by Shutterstock]

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