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‘A sign of death,’ not division: The bloody history behind lowering flags to half-staff

The flag at half-staff at the White House and the U.S. Capitol. (Photos by AFP via Getty Images)

Once again, a flag has become a symbol of division.

Less than a month after a massacre in Charleston by a white supremacist spurred nationwide debate over the Confederate flag, another mass shooting has fueled spurious flag rumors and spawned criticism of President Obama.

On Tuesday, the president ordered all American flags on federal grounds to be lowered to half-staff for the remainder of the week to honor the five military service members killed on Sunday in Chattanooga, Tenn.

But for some critics, Obama’s announcement came too late.

[Under fire for inaction, Obama orders flags lowered for Chattanooga victims]

“Oh one more thing, lower the FLAG!!!!!!!! Sir,” former Navy SEAL and “Lone Survivor” author Marcus Luttrell wrote on Monday on Twitter.

After pressure from critics, the U.S. flags at federal buildings are now flying at half-staff in tribute to the five servicemen killed in last week's shooting rampage at a military recruiting center in Tennessee. (Video: Reuters)

On a Facebook page titled “Half-Mast Challenge; Teach Obama Respect,” scores of people — including conservative commentator Glenn Beck — had already submitted photos of their own flags at half-staff.