Soldier questions memorial tradition: the half-staff flag

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In a rare “opinion piece” issued as a news release by the U.S. command in Afghanistan, a soldier has voiced a complaint against the order to put base flags at half-staff for the Virginia Tech shooting victims, but not for soldiers killed in combat.

Sgt. Jim Wilt, assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-82 Public Affairs Office, wrote: “I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT, yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. servicemember.”

“Is the life of Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of our very own task force, killed April 20 in Helmand province not valued the same as these 32 students? Surely his death was as violent as the students.”

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, President Bush ordered all American flags be flown at half-staff for a week. Bagram air base, like many other U.S. installations across the world, has been following that edict.

Wilt’s article was picked up by several news outlets and popular blogs, and has now gained wide circulation.

Related Links

  • Excerpts From The Flag Code of The United States - Public Law 94-344, July 7, 1976

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