We ran into a disappointing development this week with the funeral services for Specialist Robert Voakes who died in action in Afghanistan earlier this month.
It seems needless to say that his death was “tragic” but it was. Voakes was from L’Anse, a graduate of Baraga High School just two years ago, a good, young man by all accounts, and now gone at the age of 21, the victim of an IED in Afghanistan in a war whose value many of us are now questioning.
But what compounded the tragedy and embarrassed the Governor’s office was that on the day of Voakes’ funeral, flags around the state were not lowered. That’s generally been the state policy.
So what happened? Well, when we asked the Governor’s office about that on Monday, they responded by email about six hours later, essentially saying that it was the family’s responsibility to notify the Governor’s office that they wanted the flag lowered.
So when a family’s son or brother or grandson is killed, they must take it upon themselves, during this time of shock and mourning, to telephone the Governor and file an official request? The Governor’s office can’t keep track of these things?
That seems unreasonable and wrong. A much better solution would be for the Governor’s office, upon hearing of a soldier’s death (and these are widely publicized) to reach out and contact the bereaved family.
I think most veterans and the rest of us would agree.
Sounds to me like someone in Lansing dropped the ball. They now say they’ll lower the flag on the 20th, a week after Specialist Voakes was buried.
Better late than never.
Which, of course, doesn’t diminish the fact that a good, young man from the UP gave his life in service to his country.