WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) - John Burri honors his son Eric everyday.
A large flag with Eric's picture hangs in front of his house in the shadow of an American Flag.
Inside his home, Eric's pictures cover every corner along with military plaques and the flag that covered his casket.
The 20-year-old Army Specialist died in Iraq in 2005 when his Humvee hit an IED. Shrapnel from the explosive device pierced the back of Eric's head. Doctors said he died instantly.
"Our grandson now will never know his uncle, but he carries his name because his name is Lucas Eric and his daddy told him 'I'm going to be telling you a lot of stories about your Uncle Eric,'" said Burri, fighting back tears.
Michigan lowered its flags for Specialist Burri, but when John heard New Jersey is lowering its flags for singer-actress Whitney Houston, he and his wife grew irate.
"She was a great singer. That's true and I won't deny that. But lowering the flag is for somebody that has given their life and service to their country. Our son was killed in Iraq June 7th of 2005. This just opened the wound again, hearing about this," said John.
"I think it's disrespectful for us who have lost a loved one in war," said Joanne Burri.
John called New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the president saying it's a slap in the face to lower the flags for Houston.
"If I was a person from the State of New Jersey, I would be embarrassed. I would be ashamed. I would tell that Governor to get out of office. That's just wrong, just wrong," said John.
John planned to burn the New Jersey State flag on Saturday should the state carry through with its plans to lower the flags in honor of Houston. The state did and John went through with burning a New Jersey flag. The flag was destroyed in less than a minute.
Half-staff flag dates and rules
The flag at half-staff for citizens:
Only the president of the United States or the Governor of the state may order the flag to be at half-staff to honor the death of a national or state figure. In addition to the traditional half-staff salutes, the Flag Code mentions the use of our Flag for honoring leading citizens such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
Private citizens and non government buildings may choose to fly their flags at half staff to honor more local leaders. The Flag Code does not exclude any citizen, whether they belong to an organization or not, whether they are recognized very locally or regionally. Examples of deceased citizens that might be honored with by lowering the Flag to half-staff include local religious leaders, youth leaders, honored teachers or sports coaches, local politicians, or a local hero. There need be no authorization from the government for the private sector (non-government) to use the Flag to honor any citizen.
It is important to note that the Flag Code is a code, it is intended to provide guidance and is not obligatory. It carries no civil or criminal penalties for "misuse" of the Flag. Individual are not acting illegally when using the Flag according to their own usage. Only on government / public building is the flag code required to be followed.
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