Symbolic honors and who deserves them.

I want to address two unrelated yet very similar stories I saw in the news today. One concerns the governor of New Jersey ordering flags be flown at half-staff in honor of Whitney Houston. The other concerns the Secretary of the Navy naming a ship after former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, which has been criticized by some.

The decision to lower the flags really doesn’t make much sense to me. Whitney Houston may have been a great singer–I don’t know, I’ve only heard one performance by her–but I don’t understand what she did to deserve having the flag lowered for her. It doesn’t offend or upset me that the governor wants to do that, but I don’t understand why he would.

As for the ship naming issue, I certainly do believe that war heroes deserve to have ships named after them more than John Murtha did, so the Navy secretary deserves the criticism he’s getting for that decision. But Congresswoman Giffords was badly injured in the course of fulfilling her duties as a public servant, so I think it’s fair to name a ship after her.

That’s my opinion. What do you think?


  1. Yeah, weird on the first one.

    I’m not crazy about the ship naming thing, either. Is this a war ship? So we honor a woman who was almost killed from a violent act with something that could destroy?

    And… although I admire Gifford’s great strength, is she being honored because she was a victim of violence?

    1. Yeah, it’s called a “littoral combat ship”, so I guess it’s designed for warfare. That is pretty ironic, in a disturbing way.

      I think she’s being honored for her strength and the courage it took to come back from what happened to her. At least, that’s how I understand it.

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