Whitney Deserves to be Honored (2/20/12)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's order that state building flags be flown at half-staff in memory of Whitney Houston proved very controversial. Though no official cause has yet been given for Houston's death at 48, an Army wife scolded Governor Christie for honoring, she said, a singer who had OD'd.
But Governor Christie stood his ground. He wasn't glorifying substance abuse, but acknowledging a cultural icon.
Substance abuse, Governor Christie said, is a disease, which I would add, doesn't respect race, class or fame. And so, Governor Christie said that he rejects on a human level that Houston's disease negates the good things that she did.
Good things like raising millions for education and to help the homeless and children with cancer and AIDS. In 1991 Houston's rendition of the National Anthem electrified the nation and comforted troops in the Persian Gulf. Later, she gave a free "Welcome Home" concert for 3,500 service members returning from the Gulf war.
Like another New Jersey-born cultural icon, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston earned her place in the pantheon of entertainers who gave succor to Americans in times of war and unbounded joy in times of peace.
Whitney Houston did not live an unblemished life; not many people do. All the more reason, I believe, for us to be humble and to be more appreciative of those two sisters, Mercy and Grace, for allowing us to survive our faults.
I'm Betty Baye, and that's my Point of View.