Few flags flying at half-mast for the late President Ford

An El Cerrito reader expressed angst in a note to my on-line Q&A last night about the failure of the El Cerrito Plaza shopping center (see his note at the bottom) to fly its American flag at half-mast as a sign of respect to former President Gerald Ford, who died this week.

President Bush, of course, immediately ordered flags to be flown at half-mast but he has legal jurisdiction only over flags at federal buildings. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags lowered at the Capitol.

But like most of us, I thought all organizations that fly American flags observe the death of an American president.

That’s not the case.

I did some driving around on my way to work this morning between my home in Martinez and Walnut Creek and out of the six flagpoles I saw with flags, only one flew at half-mast. (Kudos to the Countrywood Shopping Center on Bancroft Ave. in Walnut Creek.)

My own employer’s flagpole was still empty at 10 a.m. and no word yet on whether it will fly at half-mast.

Is it a sign of disrespect, as Sgt. F of El Cerrito asks? Is it laziness? Is it apathy? Is the person responsible for putting up the flag on vacation during the holidays? It could be one or all of these scenarios.

Let’s hope everyone observes the official day of mourning on Jan. 2, 2007, and shows the proper respect for the country’s top office.

Here’s what Sgt. F of El Cerrito sent me this morning:

Recently our country suffered the loss of President Ford.

As a sign of respect for the office he held, as well as the man himself, we lower the American flag to half mast.

Well, it would seem that once again the Plaza has no respect for our flag or the people that hold our country’s greatest trust … those that serve as President.

I can understand if someone else is tending to it for them. In the end it reflects badly on everyone, the stores and tenets of the Plaza, the Plaza itself, and the city that allows them to be so offensive.

I serve our country as my small part to defend our freedoms. Even if it is for a person I may disagree with.

Yet at some point a line has to be drawn. If the flag can not be lowered, then perhaps a streamer of black crepe 7 feet long and 1 foot wide will be attached to the staff immediately below the spearhead of the U.S. flag.

Why have the American people at large lost respect for what represents us?

SGT F, El Cerrito, CA 12/28/06

P.S. For the complete etiquette on how to display the American flag, visit www.usflag.org.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen