Texas flag at half-staff raises questions

MERCEDES — Victor Gonzalez yesterday morning enjoyed helping his daughter prepare her farm animal for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.

He had been at the stock show all week and had not noticed the Texas flag was at half-staff and below the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Association and Mexican flags.

But some others may have.

“It doesn’t bother me a lot, but the flag should be higher than the Mexican flag,” Gonzalez said. “It’s interesting that it’s lowered today.”

Well, it shouldn’t have been, as stock show organizers now know.

According to the Texas Governor’s Office website, the Texas flag was to be at full-staff yesterday.

However, John Wittman, press secretary for the Governor’s Office, said the Texas flag had been ordered to half-staff for March 3 to 7 in honor of the passing of former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jack Pope.

He said only the president and the governor can order a flag to be lowered to half–staff.

According to a Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show spokesperson, the administration was not aware that the Texas flag was at half-staff and said they will lower the Mexico flag.

By 4 p.m. yesterday, the Texas flag had not been adjusted to full-staff due to a mechanical failure on the flag pole’s pulley system.

The general instructions on the proper display of the flag say that only the United States flag can fly higher than the Texas flag.

The Valley Morning Star received an anonymous email with photos complaining the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show was creating an eyesore and embarrassment because of the lowered Texas flag.

The email stated:

“The people running this stock show in Mercedes, Texas have been violating Texas law now for at least five days straight. They’re flying the Texas flag beneath a foreign flag (Mexico) and also beneath an association flag (the stock show).

“It cannot be tolerated.”

The federal government has an established flag code with provisions, tradition and etiquette regarding how the national flag should be flown, and so does Texas.

However, like the Texas flag code, there is no U.S. law enforcing the flag code or punishing violators.

The flag code is essentially an advisory guideline on how the flag should be displayed and respected.

Gonzalez said he was aware of the legend that only the Texas flag can fly higher than the U.S. flag, but it’s not true.

“I have been told the Texas flag can fly a little bit higher than the U.S. national flag,” Gonzalez said.

Legend has it when Texas joined the Union an agreement was made that the Texas flag could be flown higher than the national flag.

The only thing Gonzalez could think of as to why the Texas flag was at half-staff was on account of the recent passing of local leader and former U.S. Congressman Eligio “Kika” de la Garza from Mission.

The Governor’s Office said the Texas flag has not been ordered to half-staff in honor of a U.S. Congressman’s death since 2005.