Biden Issued Proclamation to Fly Flags at Half-Staff

By Saranac Hale Spencer

Posted on August 27, 2021

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Quick Take

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation honoring those who died in the attack at the Kabul airport Aug. 26 and calling for flags to be flown at half-staff. But a meme has been circulating on Facebook with the false claim that no such order had been issued.


Full Story

Thirteen U.S. military members died and 18 were wounded on Aug. 26 in a bombing near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan during the final days of the U.S. withdrawal.

The same day as the attack, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation to honor the victims and fly flags at half-staff until sundown on Aug. 30.

But a meme has been circulating on Facebook with the false claim that “no one has called for flags to be flown at Half Mast in honor of our Marines that lost their lives on American soil.”

The same meme has been around since at least 2016 and may have originally been a reference to four Marines who were shot and killed at two military facilities in Tennessee the year before. Then-President Barack Obama issued a proclamation honoring the victims and calling for flags to be flown at half-staff five days after the shooting, a delay for which he was criticized at the time.

One of the most viral recent examples of this meme was posted on the evening of Aug. 26 and has been shared 400,000 times. It included a message correcting the location of the deaths, saying, “Not on American soil.”

Regardless of whether the location was corrected in the recently posted examples, many of the responses show that users understood it to be about the Kabul attack. For example, one such response said, “Oh communist joe want do anything for Americans but get them killed!!!!! WAKE UP AMERICA AND CALL FOR BIDEN ‘s IMPEACHMENT!!!!”

But, as we said, Biden had already ordered flags to be flown at half-staff and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had announced it publicly at a 6 p.m. press briefing on Aug. 26.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Urban, Bill. Spokesman, U.S. Central Command. “Statement by U.S. Central Command on the Attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport.” 26 Aug 2021.

Kiely, Eugene and Robert Farley. “Timeline of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan.” FactCheck.org. 17 Aug 2021.

A Proclamation Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.” Whitehouse.gov. 26 Aug 2021.

Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Chattanooga, Tennessee.” Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov. 21 Jul 2015.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, August 26, 2021.” Whitehouse.gov. 26 Aug 2021.

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