On Wednesday, 27 June, South Carolina’s Governor issued an order for all flags in the state to be flown at half mast beginning at sunrise on Thursday, 28 June.
The reason? On Thursday morning an aircraft was to land at Columbia Metropolitan Airport bearing precious cargo……..the bodies of two soldiers, SGT John Meador, II and 1LT Ryan Rawl, members of the 133rd Military Police Company, South Carolina Army National Guard. Another plane was scheduled to fly into Greenville-Spartanburg Airport on Friday morning with yet another Hero aboard….the body of Sergeant First Class Matthew Brad Thomas.
The order was to extend from sunrise Thursday until all services for all three Heroes were completed. It’s a matter of respect. It’s a symbol of mourning and grief. Among other messages sent by this display is a message to the families of the fallen. It says that the entire state acknowledges the sacrifice of their loved one, that we all hurt as they grieve a great loss.
So, what does it say when that order is ignored?
Now, I’ll give a pass to some. Perhaps not everyone had heard of the order. It was issued rather late on Wednesday afternoon. So, I waited until after 2:00pm on Thursday and then I took a little ride around Laurens County.
Flags controlled by the cities of Laurens and Clinton were at half mast and I was encouraged but various industries had their flags at full staff. I rode past my kid sister’s house. She had taken the time to dip the flag in her yard to show respect. It seemed that all of these businesses and industries could do it if she could.
The flag in front of the court facility in Laurens……..full staff. Same at the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and I suppose all other county offices. That bothered me. Maybe they didn’t know but I would think that local governments would know. Laurens and Clinton knew. There was at least one exception: Laurens County EMS had their flags at half mast. Thanks guys.
As I rolled past the National Guard Armory near the Laurens County Airport I saw their flag at half mast and I thought how it must have felt for them to lower that flag, knowing they were doing so because some of their brothers in arms had fallen in battle.
And then I got to the Clinton National Guard Armory. Those soldiers, not very long ago, were in Afghanistan. They had soldiers wounded there. I knew their flag would be lowered.
It wasn’t. I couldn’t believe my eyes but there it was……….full staff. For these businesses and industries to not lower their flags is a sign of being uninformed and maybe lazy. I might even say that some of them just didn’t see the importance of complying with the Governor’s order.
But a South Carolina Army National Guard Armory? There is no question in my mind that by 2:00pm on Thursday they should have been informed of the order. I announced it several times on the air Thursday morning. And one would think that the National Guard would make certain that every armory got that memo.
Embarrassing. Embarrassing and profoundly disappointing. Like I said, it’s a matter of respect. Or disrepect.