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‘It’s a slap in the face for those who have given their lives’: Father of fallen soldier burns New Jersey flag after half-mast tribute to Whitney Houston

The father of a soldier who was killed in Iraq burned the New Jersey flag on his barbeque grill to protest Gov Chris Christie’s decision to lower flags to half-staff for the funeral of Whitney Houston.

John Burri, of Wyoming, Michigan, said the governor’s order is insulting to the loved ones of soldiers killed overseas. His son Eric, 21, died in 2005 in an IED explosion.

Houston, who was buried Sunday in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, was found dead in the Beverly Hilton hotel in California.

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Offended: John Burri burned the New Jersey flag on his charcoal grill to protest Gov Chris Christie’s decision

Icon: Christie said Whitney Houston was a source of pride for many in the state and deserved to have flags lowered

The troubled star had waged a very public battle with drugs and alcohol that robbed her of her voice and drained her fortune before her death.

For that reason, Christie received criticism in his own state for lowering state and US flags.



But Mr Burri said even hundreds of miles away in Michigan, the governor’s decision was offensive.

‘It’s disrespectful to every family out there that has lost a loved one in military service. It is just wrong,’ he told the Grand Rapids Press.

Offended: Mr Burri says flags should only be lowered for servicemen who die for their country


Killed: Eric T. Burri, 21, died in an IED explosion while he was serving in Iraq in 2005

Mr Burri says only military personnel and other people who die in the line of duty should receive the honor of having flags fly at half-staff.

But Christie, responding to his critics in New Jersey, defended his decision.

‘She was a cultural icon in this state and her accomplishments in her life were a source of great pride for many people in this state and for the state as a whole and so on that basis I think she’s entitled to have that recognition,’ he told reporters.

Half-staff: American flags and state flags in New Jersey were lowered as a tribute to the dead diva

Mr Burri also tied a flag to the back of his Chevrolet Cavalier and dragged it in the road in front of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, war veterans memorial and his son’s grave.

‘I’m not doing this degrade the people of New Jersey. But it’s just to show how much it hurt,’ he told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids

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