The answer is quite simple: When the longtime senator, war hero and presidential candidate passed away Saturday, Post 7 Commander Silas M. Noel was out of town and only returned Thursday morning.
“He hadn’t died before I left,” Noel told The State Journal in response to a question submitted by a reader. “I will call and take care of it right now.”
Unlike an apparent snub by the White House, American Legion Post 7 did not intentionally leave its flag raised.
Although the White House lowered its flag briefly last weekend, it was back to full height Monday. That move, coupled with Trump’s initial silence on the passing of McCain, drew criticism from both sides of the aisle as well as veterans’ groups, including The American Legion.
The organization’s national commander, Denise Rohan, addressed the issue in a written statement directed to the president Monday.
“On the 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 through his interment,” Rohan’s said in the statement.
Trump and McCain repeatedly butted heads, perhaps most publicly when the senator gave a theatrical thumbs-down to the president’s attempt to repeal President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
Following a 2015 Trump rally in Phoenix, McCain aggravated the then-candidate by saying he’d “fired up the crazies.” Trump then told an Iowa crowd that McCain was only a war hero “because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
The American Legion presented McCain with its Distinguished Public Service Award in Phoenix in February 2017. During his acceptance speech, he reflected on his time spent as a POW.
“I am the person I am today, if there’s any small measure of success I have achieved, because of the comradeship and the love and struggle we waged together,” he said. “Friends, fellow POWs, we were proud to come home with honor.”