The Garden City Telegram
7/9/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Missed tribute: Governor's office obligated to properly salute 'Big D'

If you happened to notice flags flying at half-staff Wednesday, it was because former Sen. Ross O. Doyen, R-Concordia, died July 3. The order came straight from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who also noted: "Senator Doyen was a true Kansan, and we are grateful for his service. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends and will keep them in my prayers."

The governor must have been pulling from the memories of others, as he was a fairly green attorney in Manhattan who hadn't yet entered political life when Doyen last served in the Legislature in 1984. ...

But since Brownback did not offer the half-staff salute in memory of former Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Hays, when he died June 29, it made us curious.

Johnson did not serve as president of the Senate as Doyen did, but Johnson did proudly serve the 110th House District for 14 years. He did not serve in the military during World War II as Doyen did, but Johnson was a retired lieutenant colonel in the Kansas National Guard. ...

We checked the records available on the governor's website. Brownback has not hesitated to lower the flag since he was elected.

Orders for half-staff come every Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Sept. 11, Kansas Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day, Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day and National Peace Officers Memorial Day. The U.S. flag goes down for every Kansas military member killed in the line of duty, and there have been at least 14 of these heroes honored by the current administration. ...

Additionally, each current or former lawmaker in the Kansas Legislature who has passed away since Jan. 10, 2010, has had the flags lowered for them. ...

But not Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Hays.

Why? Despite repeated requests and contact with the governor's director of communications and press secretary, Eileen Hawley, and his deputy communications director, Brianna Landon, we still don't know. ...

It is up to Gov. Sam Brownback to rectify the situation. Besides the president of the United States, only governors can order flags to be flown at half-staff. Dan Johnson earned that honor. It is the governor's obligation to ensure "Big D" receives it.

-- The Hays Daily News