Colorado to fly U.S. flag at half-staff in honor of Sen. John McCain

Author: Marianne Goodland - August 27, 2018 - Updated: August 27, 2018

flagIn this 2017 file photo, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCain is proposing a new “strategy for success” in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Updated: Just after 2 p.m. Colorado time Monday, and after more than 24 hours of criticism,” President Trump issued a statement honoring Sen. John McCain’s service and ordered all U.S. flags flown at half-staff until after McCain is buried on Sunday.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has joined a growing list of governors who have ordered the U.S. flag in their state be flown at half-staff in memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain — despite President Donald Trump’s Monday order to return flags to full-staff at the White House.

The flags at the White House had been lowered a day earlier.

The governors of Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland have also ordered that U.S. flags in their state be flown at half-staff.

McCain, 81, died Saturday. The Arizona Republican had battled for 13 months with brain cancer.

In his order, Hickenlooper said, “John McCain dedicated his life to serving this country. We (and the world) lost an incredible leader. He could never have imagined how much he’ll be missed.”

U.S. flags in Colorado should be flown at half-staff at all public buildings under sunset Saturday, according to Hickenlooper’s order.

Flying the flag at half-staff follows a long-standing proclamation created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower that says that the flag is lowered “upon the death of principal officials and former officials of the government of the United States and the governors of the States, territories and possessions of the United States as a mark of respect to their memory.”

For members of Congress, the U.S. flag code requires only that the flag be lowered on the day of the death and the following day. However, according to The Washington Post, “presidents have the power to issue proclamations extending that period.” When Sen. Ted Kennedy died in 2009, President Barack Obama ordered U.S. flags flown at half-staff for five days.

The standard for years has been that the flag be flown at half-staff until the official’s burial has taken place. McCain’s is scheduled for Sunday at the Naval Academy.

The Capitol in Washington, D.C., continues to fly the flag at half-staff in McCain’s honor. He served six terms in the Senate.

Until Monday, Trump had refused to offer any comment saluting McCain’s decades of service to the nation; he once said he didn’t respect McCain because “I like people who aren’t captured,” referring to McCain’s five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Ahtough McCain voted for Trump’s agenda on issues like federal tax cuts, he was also one of the president’s fiercest critics in the U.S. Senate. McCain was the crucial vote in killing Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the Senate last year, giving his famous “thumbs-down” vote.

The Washington Post on Sunday reported that Trump’s spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had drafted a statement that would have honored McCain for his service, but that Trump ordered it canceled. The president has been roundly criticized on social media — including with the hashtag #NoRespect — and on cable news for his refusal to honor McCain.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.