Three cheers for Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) for not only ordering the flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday to honor the late Whitney Houston, but also for vigorously defending his controversial decision. I’m not saying this because I’m a proud son of New Jersey, who, like Houston, was born in Newark — albeit four years later. Houston deserves this special recognition.
Yes, ok, fine. The chanteuse’s rocky personal life made her a questionable role model. And her destructive choices put a blemish the size of a Garden State tomato on Christie’s honor. Still, the governor did the right thing. For the one thread that ties all of the tributes to the Jersey Girl’s career together is the awe over her extraordinary voice. When Houston sang, you paid attention.
I remember first seeing Houston on Friday Night Videos in 1985. The song was “You give good love.” There were no dancers. There was no elaborate storyline or special effects. Just a beautiful young woman singing into a microphone. If you were watching that night you knew you were witnessing the birth of a STAR.
The entire nation paid attention when Houston sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl. Maybe it was because we were a nation at war, but there was something about her beautifully effortless performance of the national anthem that filled you with pride. If only it were sung that way every time: With grace, passion and undeniable strength.
That talent is what motivated Christie to order the flags lowered on Saturday. “Many in state are mourning the loss of a cultural icon in NJ’s history,” he wrote in a tweet to an irate commenter.” We are recognizing her for those contributions.” On this he has my full support.