Corbett has erred in ordering flags at half-staff for coach

Written by Susan Mannella on .

The sad news of Joe Paterno's passing not only rocked the college sports world, but also came as a surprise to many who simply know the name "JoePa" and the legacy he created at Penn State. As a Pitt graduate, and one who loved the Pitt-Penn State rivalry, I can honestly say I was saddened to hear that Mr. Paterno had passed away. The black mark at the end of a storied career aside, he left his mark on college sports and will be remembered for that.


However, I take issue with our governor's decision to order flags flown at half-staff in his honor. The U.S. flag is to be flown at half-staff "in the event of the death of a present or former official of the government," according to the U.S. Flag Code. Mr. Paterno was an employee of a state-funded university, no different from any of the thousands of other employees of that school or any other state-funded school in Pennsylvania. Do we fly the flag at half-staff when any of those people pass away? The answer is obviously no!

While I have the utmost respect for someone who managed to stay at one place of employment for 62 years, and had such a noteworthy career there, lowering the U.S. flag in his honor is inappropriate. I've served my country for 24 years and defended the people and the flag of the United States. Lowering the U.S. flag in honor of a college sports coach (even a great one) is not only a disservice to the flag, but also to those who defend it. It takes away from the true meaning and purpose of the lowering of our flag. Our governor should know better.

I am not downplaying Joe Paterno's passing, but I do believe that his legacy needs to be kept in perspective. He was a football coach.


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