State and federal flags remain lowered across Tennessee to honor the servicemen who died Thursday during shootings at two military sites in Chattanooga. But they are still flying high at the White House, and that's drawn ire from lawmakers and a host of others across social media.
"I am disappointed that this is the case," U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann told Times Free Press editors and reporters Monday. "We have asked at our federal offices that they be lowered to [half-staff], as well as at the Oak Ridge facility, and they have acquiesced."
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais had similar comments Monday.
"It needs to happen, and it needs to happen soon," he told the Fox Business Network.
On Thursday, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez drove to a military recruiting center in a Lee Highway strip mall and opened fire with a high-powered rifle from his convertible, injuring a recruiter. Then he drove to the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway and killed Marines Carson Holmquist, Thomas Sullivan, Skip Wells and David Wyatt. U.S. Navy sailor Randall Smith died two days later from shooting injuries.
Gov. Bill Haslam ordered banners at state facilities lowered a day after the shootings. And he extended that period of mourning through July 24 — one business day for each of the five servicemen who died.
But President Barack Obama has not ordered flags to be lowered nationally.
A search of the White House's website shows no flag-lowering proclamation has been issued. And it's unclear why.
Obama lowered flags one day after 13 service members were killed and 30 wounded in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009. And in July 2012, the White House lowered flags for the victims of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. Later that year, when students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary were slain in Newtown, Conn., the White House ordered banners lowered.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing for reporters Monday that Obama has expressed his condolences to the families of those who were killed, but Earnest couldn't comment on the flag status. He said Obama may have more to say today during a meeting with the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"I would anticipate that you'll hear the president discuss this a little bit more in his remarks to the VFW [Tuesday]. I don't have more information about the status of the flag over the White House," Earnest said.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrog email@example.com, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.