Larson Statement on the Passage of the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act in Committee
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) released the following statement after the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act was favorably reported out of the House Judiciary Committee:
“First responders are the Nation's front line of defense here at home. Whether they are responding to a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or traffic accident, our police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel (EMS) are always the first to answer the call and selflessly put their lives in the harm’s way to protect our communities and our nation. In the unfortunate times when the ultimate sacrifice is given, they deserve the respect of having our Nation's flag flown at half-staff. Amending the Flag Code is the least we can do. I would like to especially thank our Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and our lead cosponsors, some of whom are former first responders themselves,” said Rep. Larson.
“Our first responders always put themselves in harm’s way. Unfortunately too many have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives. This legislation will provide a very small but important way to show a nation’s appreciation in a timely and respectful manner,” said Rep. King.
“Our first responders risk their lives every day to keep us safe,” said Rep. Reichert. “For this and all the sacrifices they make on our behalf, we can never thank them enough. Lowering the American flag to half-staff to honor and recognize the service of a brave first responder who died in the line of duty is one small, but important way to show our appreciation for those who answer the call to serve. Giving governors the authority to pay tribute to their local heroes is the right thing to do.”
“As a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and Law Enforcement Caucus, I am proud to join my friend Congressman John Larson in honoring the brave first responders who put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe by supporting the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act. This bill allows the courageous men and women who run into danger to be honored by having a flag flown at half-staff should they make the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the line of duty,” said Rep. Pascrell.
“We owe out deepest gratitude and respect to our nation’s first responders; the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to serve and protect our communities and families,” Rep. Walz said. “The devastating truth is that there are days when a first responder’s life is tragically cut short in the line of duty. By flying of the flag at half-staff, we make a small but powerful gesture that honors the service and sacrifice of that fallen hero.”
Larson first introduced the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act in the 112thCongress. The inspiration for this legislation came from Jim McLoughlin, a veteran Hartford firefighter, who founded the National Honor Guard Commanders Association. This legislation has been supported by major national first responder organizations, including all three of the congressional first responder caucuses. Larson reintroduced this bill in April with help of the lead cosponsors, Reps. Peter King (NY-02), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Dave Reichert (WA-08), Tim Walz (MN-01), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), John Rutherford (FL-04), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Elizabeth Esty (CT-05), and Raul Grijalva (AZ-03). Senator Jon Tester (MT) will be introducing a companion bill in the Senate.
The flag code was last amended in 2007 by the Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act (Public Law 110-41) that expanded the criteria when a Governor can order the flag to be lowered to half-staff to include members of the Armed Forces who die while serving on active duty.
International Association of Fire Fighters; International Association of Fire Chiefs; Congressional Fire Services Institute; Fraternal Order of Police; Sergeants Benevolent Association; Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; National Association of Police Organizations; National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; Major County Sheriff’s Association; National Volunteer Fire Council; National Honor Guard Commanders Association; National Honor Guard Academy; National Fire Academy Alumni Association; California Fire Foundation; Illinois Fire Chiefs Association; Ohio Fire Chiefs Association; Virginia Fire Chiefs Association; and Local Assistance State Teams (LAST) in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Virginia.