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By JOSHUA COFFMAN
FRANKFORT — The state’s flag-lowering policy to mourn fallen service members has been revised again after drawing criticism from veterans.
Gov. Steve Beshear and Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, the state’s adjutant general, in June intended to improve the policy to honor fallen Kentuckians by shortening the time frame.
However, a key part of the original policy was left out of the revision.
A clarification announced Monday allows all service members who deploy from Kentucky and die in combat to be recognized on the day of their interment by having state flags placed at half staff.
Complaints arose about the new policy because it failed to honor soldiers deploying with Kentucky units from nearby states, or from Fort Knox or Fort Campbell.
It called for flags to be lowered on the day of interment for Kentucky natives and residents.
Col. Phil Miller, a National Guard spokesman, said the latest revision merely corrects an oversight, and that the only thing changed is the length of time a flag stays at half staff.
State Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, said he called Beshear on Friday afternoon to discuss the exclusion of out-of-state troops.
“If they deployed from Kentucky we need to honor them,” he said.
The governor and adjutant general quickly resolved the issue.
At American Legion Post 113 in Elizabethtown, veterans George Townsend and Bill Moser said Monday it is important to recognize the sacrifices of fallen service members regardless of their home address.
“They’re Americans, period,” Townsend said.
Ken Hart, state adjutant for the American Legion of Kentucky, last week also criticized the notion of out-of-state troops deploying from Kentucky not being memorialized by flags within the commonwealth.
Fort Knox spokesman Ryan Brus said the Army post’s policy on its flags, by federal regulation, adheres to state flag-lowering policies.
Such policies vary widely from state to state. For instance, North Carolina has no policy and leaves such decisions up to local governments.
Kentucky’s old policy was one of the broadest, requiring flags to be lowered from the notification of death until interment — a process that sometimes takes as long as two weeks.
Tonini’s office received numerous calls from affected families concerned it was tough to know who was being honored.
Kentucky flags mourned 26 soldiers, four officially from Kentucky, between April and July.
Shortening the flag-lowering observance to take place only on the day of interment prevents confusion among multiple fatalities and overlapping periods.
“At one period in time, the flag was at half-staff for about a month consecutively,” Tonini said. “And who was that for? You just don’t know.”
Joshua Coffman can be reached at (270) 505-1740. The Associated Press contributed to this story.