The American Legion, the country’s largest wartime veterans service organization, called on President Trump to lower White House flags to half-staff to honor John McCain and issue a proclamation honoring McCain’s service.
“It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” Joe Chenelly, the executive director of veterans advocacy group AMVETS, said in a statement.
“And by lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans,” Chenelly added.
McCain, who died on Saturday night after a yearlong battle with brain cancer, was a member of the American Legion and retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of captain.
“On behalf of the American Legion’s two million wartime veterans, I strongly urge you to make an appropriate presidential proclamation noting Senator McCain’s death and legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation’s flag be half-staffed throughout his internment,” Denise Rohan, the national commander of the American Legion, said in a statement.
Flags at the White House returned to full-staff on Monday, less than 48 hours after they were lowered following the massive backlash.
“Traditionally, the death of a sitting United States senator would be met with a presidential proclamation and flags flying at half-staff throughout the country until the funeral of the deceased,” AMVETS said in a statement. “This follows national tradition, as shown after the deaths of Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd.”
“But John McCain was not just a sitting senator,” the statement said. “He was a war hero, twice a presidential contender, and a national treasure who devoted his entire adult life to protecting and improving the American way of life.”
Following the backlash to his response, President Trump issued a statemnet recognizing the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” Trump said in a statement.
“I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday,” Trump added.
The senator reportedly did not want Trump to attend his funeral. He instead requested that former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies.
Trump reportedly rejected a draft statement from the White House on Saturday calling McCain a “hero” after the senator’s death. Trump instead issued a short tweet offering his sympathies to McCain’s family that did not directly praise the senator’s service to the county.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump trashed McCain’s status as a war hero, saying the senator was “not a war hero” because he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Trump recently avoided saying McCain’s name while signing a bill named after him earlier this month.