Obama orders US flags be flown at half-staff in honor of Peres
In rare tribute, White House, public buildings, US embassies, military posts and naval stations to lower flag to half-staff following death of Israeli elder statesman
Times of Israel
US President Barack Obama ordered Wednesday that US flags at the White House and at all federal buildings across the country and abroad be flown at half-staff in honor of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, who passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 93.
The order also applies to US embassies, military posts, naval stations and naval vessels across the world.
In a White House proclamation sent out overnight Wednesday-Thursday entitled “Death of Shimon Peres”, Obama said he has instructed “that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on September 30, 2016.”
The rare honor was previously extended to Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, in 2013; Pope John Paul II, in 2005; King Hussein of Jordan, in 1999, Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, 1995, and Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, in 1981.
The president confirmed late Wednesday that he would lead a US delegation to Israel to attend Peres’s funeral this coming Friday, after some initial ambiguity from the White House.
Dozens of other world leaders and representatives are expected to attend the funeral, among them British PM Theresa May, French President Francois Hollande, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion. Egyptian Foreign Minister is also expected to arrive for the funeral, according to reports late Wednesday.
Following news of Peres’s death Wednesday, Obama sent out a statement calling the elder statesman “the essence of Israel itself,” and saying that “a light has gone” following his passing.
“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” Obama said.
“Shimon was the essence of Israel itself — the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel,” he said.
Peres worked with every US president since John F. Kennedy, noted Obama, adding that “no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries.
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama continued. “Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.”
Peres died early Wednesday at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. He will be buried Friday at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.
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