October 10, 2012
Today was a day of healing for our community. Following the funeral for Ronald Rouse I had a long conversation with an old friend, Mr. Leroy Brown. He has been a trusted friend for many years and one I greatly admire and respect.
Leroy has served two United States Presidents in the Executive Flight Crew of what then was Army One. I expressed to him the concern from members in our armed services, retirees, and veterans regarding my decision to lower the flag to half-mast.
He made it clear that most members of our armed services don't regard anyone other than the President of the United States as having the authority to order the flags be lowered -- no matter what state law, local customs, or norms may have existed in the past.
I reached out to the Governor of our state a few days back for some clarification and advice. The fact is the state laws that govern my ability to lower the flag really don't matter if there are some that find great offense to its use outside of the executive branch of service.
My intent was to honor this young man, his team, and this community. I did not consider, nor understand fully that it might be viewed as dishonoring those that have served this country, and especially those that have given their life to preserving what our flag stands for.
It is to those members of military, veterans, retirees, and those that serve to protect our community that I ask for their forgiveness.
I apologize to them whole-heartedly and promise that I will regard our country and our flag with greater reverence and caution should the situation ever present itself again.
I'm certainly the first to say that I'm not perfect. I have a great big heart that sometimes clouds my judgment. I want you to know that I had the best of intentions in my actions.
I love this city. I love the people of Hartsville, and I ask of your forgiveness.
With deepest sincerity and regret,
Carl M. (Mel) Pennington, IV
Mayor, City of Hartsville