- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

After an outcry, President Obama ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff Tuesday in honor of the four Marines and one sailor who were killed in a shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week.

Mr. Obama also praised the victims as “American heroes” during a speech to the annual VFW convention in Pittsburgh.

“God bless these American heroes,” Mr. Obama said. “As a grateful nation, we must stand up for them and honor them, now and forever.”

He told the veterans, “Our nation endures because citizens like you put on the uniform and serve to keep us free. We endure because your families stay strong on the homefront. We endure because the freedoms and values you protected are now defended by a new generation — Americans just like our five patriots who gave their lives in Chattanooga.”

The president spoke of each of the slain servicemen: Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan of Massachusetts; Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist of Wisconsin; Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith of Ohio; Marine Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Georgia; and Marine Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Arkansas.

Congressional leaders had earlier ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims, and questions were being raised about why Mr. Obama hadn’t done the same.

Gunman Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, shot the victims in two separate attacks on military recruiting sites last week in Chattanooga.

Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said he ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to fly at half-staff as of sunrise Tuesday, and he was “pleased to learn that, just hours later, the president decided to follow suit at the White House.”

The House was also observing a moment of silence Tuesday for the victims.

“This attack is a reminder that our men and women in uniform are under constant threat, no matter where they serve,” he said. “We will continue to pray for their loved ones, as well as take action to support those who protect all Americans.”

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