NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam’s order for flags to be flown at half-staff following the death of former University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt is the latest exception to state protocols that normally reserve the honor for members of the military.
But Haslam said there was little question the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history deserved the honor.
“Pat is one of those once-in-a-lifetime individuals that I think all Tennesseans can say that she deserves a unique salute,” Haslam said. “I made the decision that Pat’s life and accomplishments are worthy of that recognition.”
An Associated Press analysis of proclamations from 50 state governors and the federal government finds the Stars and Stripes was ordered lowered somewhere in the U.S. on 90 percent of the days last year. In Tennessee, flags were lowered three times for reasons other than federal proclamations. The flag was flown at half-staff on Tennessee properties in 2015 for:
— Pfc. Lotchie John Ray Jones, Korean War soldier believed to have died in a prisoner-of-war camp in 1951, whose remains were returned home to Jasper, Tenn., last year.
— 1st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed during the Battle of Tarawa during World War II, whose remains weren’t identified until last year.
— Actor-politician Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator who died in November.
The flag has also been lowered in previous years following the passing of former Gov. Ned McWherter, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, state House Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry and longtime state Senate Speaker John Wilder.
“Our standard protocol calls for military folks who were killed in the line of duty,” Haslam said. “We have made exception for some statesmen.”
Tennessee also lowered state flags immediately following last year’s shootings in Chattanooga that left four Marines and a sailor dead. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation five days later for U.S. flags to be lowered around the country.
Haslam said there had been no reason to wait for that federal proclamation in Tennessee.
“Military killed in the line of duty is a clear call,” he said.
Note: This AP story posted as appears in the Times-Free Press.