Flags in N.J. at half-staff for Whitney Houston

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Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100
Flags in N.J. at half-staff for Whitney Houston

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New Jersey governor Chris Christie is taking a lot of heat for his decision to lower the state's flags on Saturday in honor of Whitney Houston.

As you know, the late singer's funeral will be held that day in her hometown of Newark.

Christie calls Houston "a daughter of New Jersey," and says she should be honored for the cultural impact she had.

But, that's not sitting well with some people.

Critics say flags being flown at half-staff is an honor that should be reserved for fallen service members, law enforcement officers and elected officials.

They say Christie is essentially honoring a drug addict.

He's firing back, saying Houston's history of substance abuse does not wipe out all of the good things she's done.

Christie also points out during his time in office, he has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for all 31 New Jersey service members killed in action, and every police officer killed in the line of duty.

Houston won't be the first New Jersey musician to get the honor.

Last year, Christie ordered flags to be lowered for Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

What do you make of this controversy?

Do you have a problem with flags being lowered in Houston's home state?

Or, do you feel she deserves the recognition?

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/now/nj-flags-at-half-staff-for-whitney-houston#ixzz1mawUs32d

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I agree with this opinion piece. Flags at half-staff should be reserved for those who serve the country in some way.

But flags at half-staff should be reserved principally for those who have made great sacrifices in the pursuit of selfless, patriotic service. Our celebrities get plenty of attention. Our soldiers barely get any at all. We mostly pay lip service to our support of the troops. Don't believe me? Ask the average American how many Grammys Adele won the other night and a huge number would know the answer is six. Ask them how many soldiers died in Afghanistan since 2011 and I'd be surprised if even five percent of the population knows. (I myself had to look it up. According to Wikipedia it's 2765 Coalition deaths as of 31 December, 2011.)

Our soldiers get paid little for their service. Our celebrities get paid a whole lot more. And just about the only acknowledgment our service men and women receive is the knowledge that their patriotic commitment is appreciated by a grateful nation, that there are certain great honors -- like the flying of flags at half-staff should a soldier G-d forbid pay the ultimate price -- that is reserved almost exclusively for them. The same is true of other Americans who distinguish themselves by great service to our nation.

Celebrities entertain us. They take the edge off of life. Their music inspires us and uplifts us. Their sitcoms make us forget our troubles. Their movies transport us to a more exciting time and place. We are grateful for the amusement and inspiration they can bring to our lives. But that's not the same as patriotic service to the flag.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/whitney-houston-new-jersey-flags_b_1284161.html

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I have no problem with it. The first time the Union Jack was lowered to half mast over Buckingham Palace was for Diana's funeral. Her cortege was draped with the English standard. She wasn't a politician or serving member of the military. She wasn't even a member of the royal family and had lost the HRH title, yet she did more for her country and people around the world than the entire royal family has for decades. So Whitney had drug problems. Politicians or servicemen don't have drug or alcohol problems? Of course they do but because they're fairly anonymous nobody gives a crap. As soon as it's someone famous the press has a field day. I don't see anything wrong with honouring a public figure who's contributed a lot and made a difference in many lives, even if that person is a celebrity.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

The fact that she was a drug addict (or at least used to be) doesn't concern me, because as Claire'smommy (sorry, I don't know your real name!) said, lots of other political figures or soldiers might have done drugs at one point in time or another as well and we still fly at half mass for them. I have a problem with it because she WASN'T some pillar in the community. She wasn't a soldier, cop, or fireman... people who put their lives on the line every day that they go to work. I do believe that she was an amazing talent, and there probably will never be another Whitney Houston. I even cried when I heard the news of her passing, as she was one of my favorite artists, and her National Anthem will never be outdone. That being said, it's my opinion that flags flying at half mass should only be reserved for politicial figures and service men and women. It doesn't offend me, I just don't think that it's necessary.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I've been thinking about this one a lot. I'm not sure I agree with limiting this honor to only soldiers. I like it when my city's flags are lowered to honor local police officers and firefighters who die in service to my community. I also liked when the flags were lowered for Herb Caen, a beloved local newspaper columnist who brought humor & insight to his readers, and eventually the world through syndication, for nearly 60 years, because it seemed like a piece of San Francisco was lost with him. Since I'm OK with S.F. honoring a "celebrity" who served our community well, why am I not so OK with New Jersey honoring Whitney Houston? For me, it comes down to, what contributions did Whitney Houston make to her community, to the state of New Jersey? A couple of bad movies, an awful reality show, years of public drug abuse, and one of the most spectacular renditions of the national anthem at a Super Bowl don't quite cut it IMHO.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"Spacers" wrote:

Since I'm OK with S.F. honoring a "celebrity" who served our community well, why am I not so OK with New Jersey honoring Whitney Houston? For me, it comes down to, what contributions did Whitney Houston make to her community, to the state of New Jersey? A couple of bad movies, an awful reality show, years of public drug abuse, and one of the most spectacular renditions of the national anthem at a Super Bowl don't quite cut it IMHO.

This too is why I'm torn as well. It's not like she actually was some great activist or gave of her time/money/celebrity (that I know of) to that community or anything else for that matter, as other celebs do. I'm all for someone like that getting the flag at half mass, even if they're not a soldier or a serviceman. In this particular case I don't feel that she deserves that.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

I've given this a lot of thought and I hope I can express my thoughts clearly.

Last Friday I showed the Star-Spangled Banner from Super Bowl XXV. It's the one Whitney Houston sang right after the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. (I always show that video when we cover the War of 1812.) It is the most amazing version of it IMO.

Well, I looked it up:

The patriotic feeling of Houston's stirring cover resonated strongly with the public.[8] Due to overwhelming response to her rendition, Arista Records announced that it was released as a single and video of her performance, and all profits would be donated to a charity connected with the war effort, to be selected by Houston at a later date.[9] Afterward Houston said that "I went back up in the sky booth and watched the game. It wasn't until a day or two later that I realized the whole country was in an uproar."[4] According to Clive Davis, Arista Records' decision to release the record came after three days of being flooded with phone calls from all over the country from people asking to buy copies of the single. Hundreds of radio stations around the country aired the song from tapes they had recorded from the TV broadcast.[9][10] Eventually, the CDs, audio cassettes of the performance were released on February 12, and its video singles on February 17, 1991 in the United States by Arista Records, respectively. And the proceeds―$531,650, a combined contribution from the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, Inc., Arista and Bertelsmann Music Group Distribution which donated all their royalties and profits from the sale of those―went to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund, which provided aid to U.S. military personnel, their families and war victims in the region.[11] Houston was named to the American Red Cross Board of Governors.[12][13] The audio single was also released in some countries including the Netherlands but its shipments were very small.[14]

People touch our lives in different ways. Cops and firefighters serve their communities, soldiers serve their country, musicians serve the world. They all bestow gifts on us just different gifts. Do I think cops, firefighters, and soldiers merit having the flag lowered? Yes. Do I think Whitney Houston deserves to have the flag lowered for her? Yes.

I just can't get past the value judgment placed on her life. The governor felt the flag should be lowered. I guess it's easier to say all soldiers, cops, firefighters, politicians, etc. deserve the honor regardless of who they were, but nobody else deserves the honor regardless of their contributions. I mean really, for no other reason, politicians get the same honor. We judge them as they live, but in death, that's the protocol. Scandals, resignations, corruption, prison time means nothing.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I agree with this opinion piece. Flags at half-staff should be reserved for those who serve the country in some way.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/whitney-houston-new-jersey-flags_b_1284161.html

Why is serving one's country limited to being in the military or a cop/firefighter? Did Bob Hope serve his country? Bush ordered the flags lowered on the day of his service. Rosa Parks? MLK?

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

The whole flag thing is silly to me in general.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Are you really comparing rosa parks, bob hope and mlk with Whitney Houston? Damn.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"wlillie" wrote:

Are you really comparing rosa parks, bob hope and mlk with Whitney Houston? Damn.

I'm asking Goria why serving one's country in either the military or firefighter/cop is the only service worthy of lowering the flag. I cited examples of non-military people who served their country in other ways, for whom the flag was lowered nation-wide. (With regards to Whiney Houston, it is only in her home state.)

I'm sure we could all point out politicians we don't like. But the fact is the flags are lowered for a set period of time when they die. I can't quite put my finger one why it bothers me so much...we put a value judgment on Whitney Houston's life deeming her unworthy. But had she been elected to office, suddenly she becomes worthy of the honor.

I guess I could understand better if it was reserved only for those who take on a career where they risk their lives and die in the line of duty. Then it's not as questionable becauses it's cut and dried. We aren't honoring the person but their position. Politicians don't choose a career where they have to consider the possibility of dying as part of their duties. Cops/firefighters don't have to die in the line of duty in order for the flags to be lowered. I'm not begruding the lowering of the flag for anyone. If it's become a value judgment, and the person elected to make that value judgment has decided, then I'm okay with that.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Oh. I can agree it shouldn't have to be in an official capacity, but she did not serve either NJ or the country. She was blessed with one of the largest and most beautiful talents we've ever known and wasted it. It was hers to waste but she did not use it to serve her country in a manner that deserves the honor of the flag being lowered. I think the governer will regret his decision because it seems he made it completely based on emotion without using any logical processes.

I didn't know they lowered the flags for all politicians: I thought it was just the extraordinary.ones.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm trying to summon up the energy to care about either Whitney or the flags in NJ but I just can't. I have a hard time getting emotional about the death of strangers, especially the ones who could have had the world by the balls and had virtually unlimited resources but refused to do whatever it took to get off of drugs.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Why is serving one's country limited to being in the military or a cop/firefighter? Did Bob Hope serve his country? Bush ordered the flags lowered on the day of his service. Rosa Parks? MLK?

Where did I say that? I just don't think Whitney Houston falls in that category.

This was included in the article I posted I just didn't quote the whole article.

I can completely understand flying the flags at half-staff for a celebrity very dedicated to the USO, someone who is out there visiting our troops in Afghanistan and the like on a regular basis. I can see the flag at half-staff for a celebrity who dedicated their life to highlighting genocide or helping to end world hunger. But making a considerable contribution to the arts is not the same as serving the flag.

pookieandme's picture
Joined: 10/09/09
Posts: 8

Let that state decide who it wants to honor and how. Obviously, the Gov felt and knows of the many things she did for her community/state and deserved a show of bereavement. She was more than just a celebrity and left a legacy of giving that many don't know of. Look up her charities, causes and contributions. Of course, you won't see the many positive things she did through out her life as news headlines. I think it is a ashame that people have reduced her life to the act of addiction. It seems all people (care to) remember was her addiction and not the entire body an impact of her existence.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Spacers" wrote:

I've been thinking about this one a lot. I'm not sure I agree with limiting this honor to only soldiers. I like it when my city's flags are lowered to honor local police officers and firefighters who die in service to my community. I also liked when the flags were lowered for Herb Caen, a beloved local newspaper columnist who brought humor & insight to his readers, and eventually the world through syndication, for nearly 60 years, because it seemed like a piece of San Francisco was lost with him. Since I'm OK with S.F. honoring a "celebrity" who served our community well, why am I not so OK with New Jersey honoring Whitney Houston? For me, it comes down to, what contributions did Whitney Houston make to her community, to the state of New Jersey? A couple of bad movies, an awful reality show, years of public drug abuse, and one of the most spectacular renditions of the national anthem at a Super Bowl don't quite cut it IMHO.

According to her fan website, she did plenty of charitable giving, both with her money and time.

http://www.whitney-fan.com/persona/charity.php

http://www.examiner.com/america-now-news-in-national/not-much-has-been-said-about-whitney-houston-s-humanitarian-efforts

There's too many articles to cite.