To the Editor:
On Dec. 14, the Herald published two letters regarding the respect being shown Nelson Mandela’s passing by flying our U.S. flag at half-staff.
The letter written by Patricia Muldrow Roberts laid out a very good reason to honor Mr. Mandela in such a fashion. Like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. before him, Mandela stood up for his beliefs, paid the social price for opposing an oppressive and evil regime, and still could forgive those who had wronged him. That is an astounding thing and so rare that the love and commitment move most of us.
T. R. Pappas, on the other hand, had difficulty with that, since lowering the flags to honor Mandela fell on the same day as the remembrance of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. There are relatively few people alive who remember or were directly affected by that day and so it does not have the same impact as the recent death of a hero of the human struggle to be free and respected.
Still, I see no reason why Mr. Pappas could not have done both if he wanted to. There was no impediment to him lowering the flag at his house in honor of those who died on Dec. 7, 1941.
Flags are symbols and as such only have the meaning we put into them. Nelson Mandela died in the week prior to Pearl Harbor Day and the flags were lowered until his burial. It just happened that way, and I don’t believe any slight was meant.