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Whitney Houston is not Deserving of Half-Staff

Updated on February 19, 2012

The past week, the news has been littered with talk of Whitney Houston’s death. From the actual news of her dying to the rumors of why she died, she has definitely been the talk of the week. With her funeral, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, has sparked some controversy. He has ordered that the flag be flown at half-staff in memorial of Houston. While this is entirely within his powers as the governor, many people are disagreeing with his decision to do so.

While Whitney may have sung two of the most memorable renditions of the national anthem at the Super Bowls in 1991 and 2001, that does not make her deserving of the honor, which the flag holds. She may have been a public figure with one of the biggest, most beautiful voices of any female singer, but she was still just an entertainer. And at that, she is an entertainer with a tattered history. She isn’t the first entertainer with a questionable life to have the flag flown at half mass for. Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley both had histories of drug use and other blemishes and had the flag lowered for them. They were clearly national icons, but they were simply entertainers.

However, people are not just against flying the flag because of Houston’s drug history. The issue is that entertainers and other such celebrities are not deserving of the honor. The argument is that the lowering of the flag should be reserved for people who have served the nation, such as soldiers, political figures, and other public servants.

When it is put in perspective, lowering the flag for an entertainer and not for a soldier who dies in war is ludicrous. There is really no comparison. There are young men and women dying every day in the Middle East because they are defending what the United States stands for. How often is there a story about the flag being lowered for one of them? Not often enough, but somehow it is okay to lower it for a drug abusing celebrity who has done nothing to better the nation. It is an utter disgrace.

While big government and being overly controlling is not good, sometimes necessity calls for a new law to be put in place. People are starting to question why there are not specific guidelines for when the American Flag can be flown at half-staff. It is an honor that should be reserved for soldiers and public servants who deserve it. By doing it more often, it loses some of its distinction. By having set laws, it would keep the flag from being lowered whenever a governor makes the order. Of course, the states could reserve the power to fly their own state flag at half-staff whenever they wanted, but the American Flag would have limitations and only be done nationally.

Like everything else, there would be some exceptions. An entertainer like Bob Hope might be deserving because of how much time he spent visiting his troops supporting them. Events such as September 11th or the Columbine shooting could also merit lowering the flag. The important thing is to keep the flag from being flown at half mass for just anyone; there need to be some regulations. Think about Francis Scott Key as he looked at that flag and wrote the lyrics for the “Star Spangled Banner”. Think about how much meaning that flag held to inspire such a beautiful song. It is disrespectful to lower the flag for just anyone.

Should the flag be put at half-staff for anyone other than soldiers, political figures, or notable public servants?

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    • Joelipoo profile image

      Joel 6 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you all for your comments and opinions about Whitney and the flag. Sorry I was not able to respond to all your comments individually as they came. I was a little under the weather all weekend and not on HubPages at all.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      There's no excuse for this. State flag perhaps, country flag no.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 6 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      That's good, Brianlokker.

    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 6 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      As a lifelong New Jerseyan, I appreciate the fact that Governor Christie is an unabashed booster of the state, including our arts and artists. Whitney Houston was a musical icon, yet she always honored her New Jersey roots. While I would not have chosen to give her (or Clarence Clemons) this particular form of tribute, I don't see it as an action for which the governor deserves major criticism.

    • seo guru profile image

      seo guru 6 years ago from Chicago Area

      Folks New Jersey flew the flag at half staff for Frank Sinatra when he died. They are honoring one of their own. Why would anyone care about what they choose to do. This is the most ridiculous thing I can think of to get media attention in some time. She was a super talent, who gave back much to her community and state, despite her failings as a human being she did more for under privileged and needy people then most will even dream about doing. Don't you have something more important to be angry about

    • Reginald Boswell profile image

      Reginald Boswell 6 years ago from Alabama

      New Jersey's own Whitney Houston inspired millions with her rendition of the American Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl during a time when our troops were in Iraq, The Giants went on to win which brought millions in Revenue and Super Bowl MVP told that Whitney honorably shares with him that honor for inspiring everyone, that Anthem remains the standard that all singers of the Anthem must aspire Also becoming a chart topping best seller in which Whitney donated all proceeds to the troops in Iraq.

      I worked for Whitman in the 90's but I don't know much about Christie but he's staunchly against same sex marriages (which shows character) in such great opposition and some how recieved a very staggeringly large donation from the founder of Facebook for the schools in Newark, so if he flies the flag half staff I cheer his stand.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 6 years ago from America

      You know one minute I think Christie is the best conservative in the world, then only seconds later he does something stupid like this! I too agree that her example and the fact she did nothing for America does not warrant the flag to be displayed at half mast.

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Dan Robbins 6 years ago from Ohio

      Sure, the governor does have the right to order the U.S. flag to half mast in his state but let's shrink this down...I cannot find anywhere that Whitney's contributions to the state of NJ would warrant this honor. Christie backs this with nothing more than her birth. He also lowered it for Clarence Clemons. Though I have not researched them all, I do not see other states with this track record. Out of 15 states I reviewed, none lowered the flag for celebrity status in the past year AT LEAST. Christie, twice in exactly 8 months. This is not Whitney's fault and it is sad she's at the center of this debate. Christie, in my opinion (and the opinion of veterans I know), has not only discredited this honor but I'm sure the family loves further scrutiny surrounding her death. It's a sad story all around and may she rest in peace.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 6 years ago from Michigan

      I don't have too much of a problem with him lowering the state flag, but not the US flag. The US flag should fly high unless it is declared a national day of morning by the President and Congress. If Christy creme wants to lower his flag that is his business. I think that a governor should need congressional approval to lower the state flag.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 6 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      @TimeTraveler2: The point wasn't (and isn't) a person's lifestyle necessarily; and Christie even stated this. It was to honor her as one of New Jersey's own and a cultural contributor. If we're only going to honor moral paragons, then let's forsake honoring anyone! Sinatra--a legend he is; a saint...he isn't (or have we forgotten?) I think Christie's point stands, albeit over-reaching by lowering the American flag. But we can all agree that Whitney was a great singer and icon.

    • LHwritings profile image

      Lyndon Henry 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Whitney Houston is an icon in history and an ikon of achievement, particularly as an extraordinarily talented black woman. Others (such as political figures) have been so honored but I would question the propriety of that in many instances. Much of the New Jersey population seems extremely proud of Ms. Houston, and if anyone is deserving of being public honored, she is.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 6 years ago from USA

      You are so right about this one. New Jersey didn't even fly the flag at half mast for Frank Sinatra...and he truly IS a legend! I like Whitney's music, but her lifestyle has always been very low level. I don't like the idea of our country honoring someone like this in such a way. Don't know what Christy was thinking!

    • Joelipoo profile image

      Joel 6 years ago from Ohio

      @ithabise - Exactly right. Thanks for reading.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 6 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      The New Jersey state flag...fine; but I'm not sure he has the authority to lower the American flag.


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