Michigan Man Burns NJ Flag In Response To Houston Tribute

KALAMAZOO, MI (CBSNewYork) — A Kalamazoo, Michigan man whose son, Eric, died in Iraq in 2005, was outraged when he heard that flags in New Jersey were being flown at half-staff for the death of Whitney Houston.

John Burri decided to burn the New Jersey state flag on his outdoor grill as a form of protest.

Burri said that he believes the lowering of flags should be reserved for those who have given their lives for their country.

1010 WINS Reporter Glenn Schuck Reports…

“Maybe it’s a little drastic. I know that’s a little extreme but I’m sorry. This is how much it hurts. This is how much of a slap in the face it is to all that have served and given their life,” Burri said.

New Jersey residents, while sympathetic, felt that burning the flag was an extreme measure.

Alan from Waldwick suggested a national policy for flag lowering to avoid future disagreements.

“They definitely should take a look at the policy all over the United States. What’s good for one state should be good for all states, and have a definite policy,” he said.

Burri’s son died when his patrol was attacked with an IED.

What do you think, should the flag have been lowered? Let us know in our comments section below…

  • The Realist

    What does THE LAW say about lowering the Flag? If Christie acted illegally, then he should be arrested and jailed. If not, then everybody should shut up.

    • Mother of a 22-year Military Hero

      United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1 Paragraph 7m is very specific about when the Governor of any state can direct the US flag to be lowered. Check it out for yourself. No where does it give any Governor the right to lower the flag for an entertainer (drug addict or not). Just because Miss Houston was born in New Jersey as a talented (which is a gift) entertainer in no way should she have been recognized as anything but lacking character (which is a choice). Giver her a music award, I have no problem with that. But don’t recognize her in a way that salutes those of honor and courage.

  • getalife

    I APPLAUD THE MAN FOR DOING THAT, not to a druggie that probably killed herself, and dont say im racist, i would say the same about lohan if she killed herself with drugs, SHAME on NJ , that state does not honor the right people who fought for our country, must be black, mayor and govenment.

    • Robert

      He lowered the flags half mast at 31 different occasions for our soldiers. Not only do you need to get a life, you need to get your facts straight.

  • Gina Davis

    Where was the public outrage when they lowered the flag for Elvis Presley. If you don’t think you are a racist look at how you are responding.

    “Elvis Presley’s death, so many that President Carter ordered 300 National Guard troops to the area to maintain order. All city buildings in Memphis immediately lowered their flags to half-staff.”

    • Robert

      Seriously, I think Christie was showing Jersey pride. She was a girl that came out of the Newark ghetto and made it big as a singer. Just like another famous Jersey boy, Frank Sinatra. I think if Sinatra died on his watch, Christie would have lowered the flags for him as well. I don’t think there would have been as much outrage either.

  • Kim

    You are all insignificant and mean nothing to anyone and when you die noone will remember or even care- that is why you are so mad. I was born in NJ and I am proud to say I loved Whitney Houston. If you die while serving your country then that is your choice. If you die in a bathtub that was her choice.

  • The Realist

    Why didn’t he just SUE New Jersey to recover his monetary losses?

  • Tom

    Ladies & Gentlemen, I’m from NJ and would have done the very same thing as burning the State flag, Some of us are already hanging the flag upside down and asking for Gov.Christies impeachment. For those who don’t know there is already a Federal Flag Code for the US flag, in paragraph 7 it clearly states that the US flag is NOT to be flown at half staff for civilians and Whitney Houston was clearly a Civilian as was Clarence Clemons. I’ll betcha did’nt know this is the 2nd time this has been done.

    • Winston Smith

      “(m) … By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.”

  • LongTimeFan

    And when your time, comes, Angelina, take your ugly white hood and sheet with you underground, where collective garbage belongs.



  • Robert

    If you want to be famous and have media coverage for yourself when you die, don’t join the military.Get in politics and show business instead. This country always over celebrates the rich and famous and it doesn’t hit home to us until a rich and famous person, we don’t like, gets attention. this country is about money, bottom line. She may have been a crack ho, but she’s made herself and others rich in life and will make her heirs and others rich in death. You think if I want to get in the section of a restaurant where Paris Hilton is, they care that I fought for this country? If I die on the battlefield the same day George Clooney dies,you think I’m going to get as much praise and recognition as he’ll get? The idea of celebrating the rich and famous and overlooking the lower classes was brought over here by our founding fathers. Now once a black singer dies, it’s become a problem.

  • Linda

    The flag should be lowered for service men and women only. The governor of NJ was just trying to get attention to his political ways. I also can see the flag lowered for the President or VP, but that is it.

  • jilly

    Flags should not be flown at half staff for an entertainer unless that entertainer has given much to the country (ex: Bob Hope). Houston was troubled, not a role model, and who knew she was from New Jersey? The gentleman from Kalamazoo was very correct in his feelings about this honor being diluted when used for a singer. His son gave his all for our country! Whitney made millions, lived a good lifestyle, and left this life due, in part, to her own actions. Where is honor in this. We can feel sorrow for the family and understand their pain, but flying the flag a half staff–I don’t think so.

    • Linda

      I agree with you jilly. I live in PA and didn’t know that she was from NJ.

    • IBD2012

      Since you asked, I knew that she was from NJ. frank Sinatra and Clarence Clemmons have also had the flag lowered in their honor. Proceeds from the sale of her best selling National Anthem recording have been donated to the Veterans of the Gulf War, and again in 2001 to 9/11 victims when it was re-released. she also gave sizable donations to community organizations throughout NJ. How much have you done for NJ? How will you be remembered?

  • Robert

    Maybe it’s because it’s so rare that someone from New Jersey amounted to anything. They should call it the Garbage State instead of the Garden State. Who was the last famous person from New Jersey that died, Frank Sinatra? I did hear somewhere that he lowered the flag half mast at 31 different occasions for war heroes.

    • Christie: the Governor that ate NJ

      Trash the Governor and his choice, but trashing the State of NJ and it’s people is uncalled for. Btw, where do you come from, Utopia?

      • BORNINNJ

        I agree. Thanks for the American pride in your United States…….

  • marie

    How sad is this United States

    • hocytek


  • Lieut. Dan's Aunt

    tomorrow, there will be a funeral for a brave young son of new jersey, who died in serving his country, one of the few, the proud, a marine. good people of the tri state area, fly your flags tomorrow and honor this man, his family and all who stand in harms way in the service of their country. my flag will be unfurled at sunrise monday morning. join me.

  • Erzulie DuBoise


    Christie could have sent a card or a wreath, would have the same impact w/o the criticism.

  • george

    Good work!

  • Victoria

    I think Gov. Christie was fine in his judgement to have the flags lowered half -mast. Whitney Houston was more than just a singer – she accomplished much more than just singing; she led the way for many female singers to go that extra mile and achieve fame; she never forgot her roots and Newark and NJ. She was form New Jersey and proud of it. Gov. Christie has risen very much in my eyes for the loving, kindness he showed for a fellow New Jerseyite who made an impact on the whole world and on the music community. I’m from NY and NJ is our neighbor – I would like to think that our Gov. would do the same for a New Yorker who never forgot their roots.

    • barbbara

      She also made a wonderful role model for any aspiring drug addicts. She had it all and she chose to trash her career for drugs and a dysfunctional relationship. That pretty much negates the earlier years. You should get your priorities straight.

    • Winston Smith

      I think I’ll fly my flag at half mast for Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers! After all, they originated a HUMAN mode of interaction with children: one-on-one, instead of the, then current, “talk down to the liddle kiddles” method. They gave the children the notion that they were worth being talked TO – not AT!

    • John

      I’m with you Victoria! Well said! I’m glad he did it to.

    • IBD2012

      Thank you for your positive post.

  • Winston Smith

    This is just a followup to having a ticker-tape parade for a bunch of overpaid hunks who can play with their balls and NONE for returning Soldiers who had HAD the balls to put themselves in harms way FOR US!

  • Alphabet Antics

    A B C D E F G H I burned a flag in Kalamazoo…

  • Hank Kozak

    The Flag should be lowered for all of us!!

    • Winston Smith

      I think you got the punctuation a bit wrong, it should be “The Flag should be lowered for all of [the] U.S.!!”

      • george

        For all of the junkies!

  • Winston Smith

    Our priorities have REALLY gone sideways, lately! Our King visits Kenya and they lock down an entire 500 room hotel for him while the ENTIRE UN Delegation gets TWO FLOORS of a NY hotel … go figger.

    • LongTimeFan

      Racist coward, not man enough to handle the consequences of the correct spelling.

  • Rhiannon

    Ms. Houston also gave back her to home town and state. Regardless of her addictions, she always remembered her NJ roots. She was a native daughter of NJ . A native New Jersyite who became a celebrity in the performing arts. What is so wrong in recognizing her passing by lowering the state’s flag?

  • Pfunker

    I wonder if there would be all of this anger if the flag was lowered for Bruce Springsteen ? I doubt it.

    • barbara

      The only celebrity who deserved the honor was Bob Hope. His dedication to the military over the years was outstanding. No current celebrities deserve to have the flag flown at half-mast. That includes Clarence Clemens, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. They are wonderful entertainers and that’s all.

    • IBD2012

      pfunker..I believe that you are correct. no one said anything about Clarence Clemons or Frank Sinatra…

  • Amy Winehouse: GIN, JUICE AND CRACK!!!!


  • Amy Winehouse: GIN, JUICE AND CRACK!!!!


    • bnhad

      kudos……your are right…..thanks for speaking out. what’s with a 4 hour televised funeral?? more than any president or world leader ever got.

    • Theclarkster

      YOu forgot Michael Jackson.

  • Arthur Kinney

    there are a lot of hate in this country and most of you people here need to re-examine the constitution and what it really means to be American, then hang your f cking heads in shame. I totally believe in constitutional freedom and maximum liberties. But I also recognize the responsibility that goes with those rights. And I swear to whatever god there maybe if I heard anyone say to me or my family what you people say hidden behind your keyboards you better have your hands up and ready to be responsible for your speech

    • IBD2012

      Amen….I could not agree more.



    • IBD2012

      Yes, it has been lowered for fallen soldiers.



  • Dude

    I think Gov Christie lowered the flag thinking that Black folks commonly use drugs and so would respond well to this cynical gesture toward a faded pop star/current drug addict’s pathetic demise. Christie is forgetting just how many Black folks have lost loved ones to drug dependence and HATE drugs and those who glorify their use. I think he felt this would give him “street cred” among Blacks in his future political endeavors, and he is WRONG about Black people. This manipulative “gesture” will cost him more Black support than it gains, and now he”ll have lost Conservative supporters as well.

  • corta

    Very good point Greg – there has been way too much media hype about a person who had adiction problems and ultimately ruined her career that was very talented. Very sad. God Bless our soldiers and our country. Keep the priorities in the right perspective.

    • Taurus

      Chris Christie looking for african American votes in New Jersey. He’s Republican HELLO OUT THERE> ARE YOU SEEING A PATTERN HERE>I really think that Cory Booker will run for Governor and whip Christie’s ass. Just wait.

  • s.kuhn

    I would not have burned the flag but I agree that her death, while tragic, was not a situation to lower the flag to half mast, this is reserved for those who took an oath to the American constitution, regardless of faith, origin or duty. Her death does not qualify, the total press coverage of her death goes to show how easily our citizens are drawn away from reality. There should be such special reports for EVERY SOLDIER who falls in battle, every Policeman who falls and every Fireman who dies…

    • barbara

      You are so right. They all risk their lives on a daily basis to protect us. The only thing Houston did was throw hers away. No honor there.

      • Anthony Pepe

        yea they’re really protecting you. wake up, shill. they’re nothing but fodder for the military industrial complex – making the rich white guys in power more rich at the cost of their lives.

        • Winston Smith

          Who is asking anyone to lower the flag for the “military industrial complex”? All we’re asking is proper respect for those in uniform who step out often “at the cost of their lives”!

    • Winston Smith


    • Lieut. Dan's Aunt

      well said. at the nursing home where my dad is both televisions on the alzheimer’s unit, and 1 other floor had the tv on the funeral! in my best cynical tone, today i remarked to one of the care managers – “who knew so many elderly folks were whitney fans or interested in watching a funeral!” please cut me a break! at least in the case of ms houston, every time her rendition of the national anthem is played, the royalty money goes to the uso. a nephew served 2 iraq tours and is a purple heart recipient. honors with the flag should be restricted.

  • corta

    Ditto on Greg comment: Way too much social and media hype for a person who had addition problems. What kind of setting are establishing for our young to admire?


    That is the whole point, A military person has honor and respect and has died for our freedoms that we take for granted daily VS a “STAR” who has abused her life and has all the resources available to her to treat her “Disease”, yes she was a good singer at one time and that is all she was, what did she do for this country? Name one thing!

  • J.R

    Once again I’m posting to let all that aren’t aware a U.S. Marine who was killed in action by sniper fire was buried in North Arlinton N.J. on Saturday 2/18/12.I have yet to locate any coverage that was given to his funeral.What a disgrace.The American people better wake up and get their priorities straight!

    • LongTimeFan

      And if that Marine turned out to be gay, the racists and bigots here screaming the loudest for the military, would show their true colors in a heartbeat.

  • Otencia

    It seems that many of us are concentrating on the drug use and insisting that aspect trumps everything else that Ms. Houston accomplished – the records she broke and still holds, the humanitarian work, her never deserting NJ. NO ONE is perfect. There seem to be much more important things to worry about in this world than a state flying the flag at half staff. Thank God I live in America where a state can make that choice and you can choose to protest. That’s freedom folks!

    • XCOP

      That’s freedom folks!Not anymore the people spoke against lowering the flag and the Governor went against the will of the people like the Democrats did with Health Care.They are suppose to listen to us or we need to target them for extermination at the polls

      • Jeff Sayin

        Don’t pretend to speak for “the people” – plenty of people have no problem lowering the flag for a culural icon like Ms. Houston. And for many reasons, the flag is not lowered every time a soldier dies in a war.

        Also, so sick of the commenters who have nothing betterto do than use nasty hateful langauge to disparage poeple whether it be celebrities, the President, or those who disagree with you. Sad comment on the state of discourse that an anonymous Internet permits.

        • Winston Smith

          “… for many reasons …”? The only reason that I can think of is that the flag would seldom get to the top of the staff
          .Now I can agree with the comment “… nasty hateful language …” but beyond that is the recognition that “The truth is always a perfect defense.” – facts don’t always stroke one’s ego!
          BTW, aren’t YOU using this “… anonymous Internet …” to “… disparage …” other users?

    • IBD2012

      well said.

  • Veteran Kick aside

    Hmm. I wonder what any of you would say about homeless veterans and veterans who have become mentally ill because of their military experience. How about NON-U.S. citizens who give their life and time for a country that is not their own? For all those people who love to say awful things about foreigners. The U.S. doesn’t mind if they give their lives despite the fact that they are not treated equally where benefits are concerned. Who is lowering flags for them?

  • TommyS

    This was just a political response to what the governor believes drives the country AND the voters( he unfortunately, might be correct). Many of the networks flood the airwaves with “reality” shows. Jersey housewives, the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Snooky something or other, Tori Spelling. The tabloids are filled with exposes and tawdry intimate stories. Apparently there is a huge market for no talent celebrities and their scripted “unscripted” lives. The Governor saw this as an opportunity to play to the mindless public and the minorities to get some more votes in the bank for his political ambitions. I don’t agree with his formula for success, but then he’s the governor and I’m only a citizen.

  • Roger

    People…can we grow up here?

  • cory

    Can someone please clarify for me if this was the STATE flag that was lowered or the AMERICAN flag? If it were the former, then while I don’t agree, it really is the states prerogative, and if NJ decided to do it, then the whole country can see where their priorities lie. If it were the American Flag, then absolutely not, and as a veteran myself, I know there are laws governing that…People need to be reminded that the flag is a national symbol and it has certain customs and courtesies afforded to it that I feel have been forgotten over the years.

  • Brian

    I thought she died of a drug overdose. It is possible that the NJ Governor ate her?

  • John

    As a person living in NJ, I was also appalled at the governor’s decision to lower flags to honor someone who may have been a pop star many years ago, but was now just a faded drug abuser who made many horrendous choices in her life that brought about her end. My neighbors fly a US flag on a 50 ft pole in their front yard and they and I’m sure many others, refused to lower the flag.

  • Jonnis

    Since we have states’ rights on everything else, I believe what New Jersey decides to do should be an internal decision. Lowing the flag for an non-military individual need not take away from the respect and honor given to a person who has sacrificed her or his life for the safety of all.

    • Vincent Carlucci

      Your priorities are in the wrong place!

    • Jimmney

      Exactly!!! Well put. We honor G.Washington as the founder of our contry never mind the fact that he was a womanizer, alcoholic, fathered children from slave women(mostly underage), and bragged in his letters about how he washed his hands in the brains of native Americans he frequently killed. So what if Whitney
      made errors, it does not do away with her accomplishments. I know most, if not all of the flag lovers posted here have never used drugs right?

      My country tis of thee sweet land of bigotry.

  • Vincent Carlucci

    I think it is disgraceful that the flags are flown at half-staff in honor of Houston. If this was done for her, why was it not done for all other famous singers and stars like Sinatra, etc. OUR COUNTRY HAS LOST IT’S PRIORITIES! It is very sad on what we have become.

  • susan

    the explanations for the history of lowering a flag to half mast all seem to apply to military traditions..i can understand it for the death of a soldier, or a president or even the governor himself,or like 9/11 where so many died, but not for a pop star..this father was visibly upset because his son was a war veterem,, so i think he expressed himself the only way he knew how..

  • Siamtnaat

    Yes it should. One person’s death should not be compared as greater or better. It’s hard for each family, period! She was from there and she made the state proud. Like her bodyguard said, they sacrifice their lives to perform and deliver to fans. Nobody said that his death was not significant. We are ALL Human Beings on this earth for a time, ONE LOVE. Respects…..

    • Vincent Carlucci

      Your priorities are in the wrong place.

    • susan

      i am sorry, but to say a pop star “sacrifices” their lives to perform and deliver to fans is hooey! they do it for money,fame and glory..period..i dont think i have ever heard a rock star,pop star, musician or whatever say it was a “sacrifice” to make the vast amount of money they make and have a luxurious lifetyle because of it,,it is not a “noble” cause..

      • XCOP

        where was her bodyguard when she was smoking crack on weed?

  • Joe

    BIG mistake, big man.

    • Vincent Carlucci

      Joe, you are 100% correct.

  • XCOP

    God Bless this Father and his family for the service and ultimate sacrifice his son made .

    It is eminently important that we protect the tributes that have become part of the military and public service fabric over the past two centuries. They are part of our tradition and should not be for sale at any price. They should not be available to take, and they should not be available to give.

    The manner in which we lay the valorous when they fall helps define how we should carry ourselves while we live.

    Lowering the flag to half staff should be reserved only for those who perish as a result of public duty and service, protecting our nation and the Constitution, and for those who served as formal leaders and dignitaries not a sing.

    • NurseDee

      XCOP I agree with you 100%. Well said.

  • Kris

    This is beyond disrespectful. To lower the flag for a crackhead who hasn’t even been relevant in almost 15 years is just unfathomable. That is a right reserved for for those who have served their country. I say good job to John Burri. As for Leigh I’m not sure if you’re confused as to why the flag was lowered or you actually think a star is better than someone in the military but I’m glad I live in the USA where my free speech is protected so I can burn a flag to show my displeasure.

  • Drew Powell

    The flag should NOT have been lowered! Although she was a brilliant star, the way she lived her life was nothing to honor and pay homage to in a public way. It’ sickens me ever so often how we consider people in the public eye as role models, just because they are popular, beautiful, rich, or talented. The flag lowering symbolizes that if you make it to the top in some regard, then burn out and crash in a heap of dissapointing destruction, you will still be idolzed (even publicly!). All because you had a beautiful voice, yet no self-respect, discipline, or restraint. Although I agree the flag burning was a little extreme, it brings to light an important point: our values are a little out of whack!

  • Wendell

    H$ll no it should have not been lowered. Look at Federal law for guidance. Houston’s death while unfortunate absolutely does not qualify.

  • Leigh

    Yes indeed the flag should have been lowered. You can’t compare a military person to a star, just isn’t any comparison. Here in Canada if you burn a flag,yo’u get a big fine.

    • Greg

      That is the whole point, A military person has honor and respect and has died for our freedoms that we take for granted daily VS a “STAR” who has abused her life and has all the resources available to her to treat her “Disease”, yes she was a good singer at one time and that is all she was, what did she do for this country? Name one thing!

      • Brian

        She kept drugs off the street. BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

      • Taurus

        She knew and could sing the words for OUR National Anthem and she sang it better than anyone else I’ve heard. NEXT. Let he who casts the first stone be hit by a bigger one themselves. That’s not the Bible that’s me.

        • Otencia

          And let’s not forget the royalties from her rendition went(and still go) to the armed forces!

    • kachonka

      Stay in Canada thank you.

      • Taurus

        You want our oil. fresh water and yes our healthcare (GOTCHA) We don’t need anything from America. You need us more than we need you kachonka. America has been in decline for 30 years. Can you say Roman empire? Entiltled? Fear mongers? Canada. NO DEBT and surplusses every year. Maybe you should pay attention to reality kachonka. And don’t be such a BITCH WITH A FLAG IN YOUR ASS..

        • Tony

          I would like to point out that GOP hero Gov Christie made the flag decision..
          He can, at anytime, lower the NJ flagg for the true heros, our vets and war dead.

    • mark

      Then you can lower the canadian flag for dead law breakers and drug abusers and leave the unquenchable pride of the United States alone. No, lowering the United States flag to half staff for her was inexcuseable.

      • marie

        What impact did she make???

        • LongTimeFan

          Judging by the coverage and interest in her premature passing, and the mourning that followed all around the world, she made huge impact in both song and humanitarian efforts which were considerable including The Children’s Defense Fund, The Red Cross, United Negro College, The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, The Special Olympics, Welcome Home Heroes, and many others.

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