UPDATE (6:52 p.m. March 27): Governor Snyder has now ordered that flags fly at half-staff on Monday, March 30.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Shocking to many, Michigan flags will not be lowered to half-staff in honor of the three U.S. Marine Staff Sergeants who are being laid to rest.
It’s Michigan flag protocol, developed with the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Services, which Governor Snyder is not attempting to override.
The policy does not sit well with much of the public, especially not with Veterans.
“That’s the symbol of our country, and I’m the proudest American you’ll ever meet in your life,” said Don Kramer, retired U.S. Navy Purple Heart recipient.
Kramer is a two-time Purple Heart recipient. He was wounded twice, and spent two years learning how to walk again.
“I’d do it all over again, I wouldn’t get it a second thought,” said Kramer. “I’d put that uniform on if I knew that was going to happen to me, just to stand up for this country.”
Kramer firmly believes if anyone wore a uniform to protect our country, they should be honored with flags at half-staff. Period.
“That flag should be lowered for anyone, anyone, I don’t care if you’ve been in the military for one day and you get killed in basic training, somebody needs to show you respect,” said Kramer.
Special Operations Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif received the Silver Star medal just four days before he was killed in a helicopter crash during training.
Hundreds of viewers posted to FOX 17 News’ Facebook in agreement, along with retired U.S. Marine Wayne Luznicky, Commandant of the Grand Rapids Marine Corps League. Luznicky petitioned Snyder to override Michigan flag policy.
“Governor, if you would, put the mechanics or the machinery in motion to amend the Michigan flag code,” said Luznicky. “Have it amended so that we can honor any active duty military person that dies in the line of duty.”
In response, Deputy Press Secretary Dave Murray from the governor's executive office released this statement:
“The crash that claimed the lives of the Marines, including three from Michigan, is a tragic loss for our country and our state. It’s another reminder that the men and women serving our country make tremendous sacrifices and put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe and protect our freedoms.”
“The current Michigan flag protocols were developed with the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and reserves the call for flags to be lowered across the state when members of the armed forces are lost in combat.”
“Gov. Snyder has been reaching out personally to the families of the three Marines to express his condolences on behalf of the entire state. We know the families are so proud of these Marines, and so are their entire communities. They are, unquestionably, heroes. Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif earned a Silver Star for his brave actions under enemy fire in Afghanistan, and will serve as an inspiration for many in the Holland area and beyond.”
But Luznicky said these Marines were still doing their job: protecting our country.
“We lost three brothers,” said Luznicky. “To me, I wish we could honor them with flags at half-staff.”