Some residents of Newark say that despite the criticism of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to lower flags to half staff at state government buildings to honor Whitney Houston during her funeral service Saturday, the singer never forgot where she came from.
Newark resident Anna Simpson said, according to Mail Online, “We would see her and say, "She's one of ours. She always made us proud, no matter what happened.” The funeral is scheduled in New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston sang in the choir when she was a child.
Christie said he has been receiving messages attacking his decision ever since he made the announcement.
"I am disturbed by people who believe that because of her history of substance abuse somehow she's forfeited the good things that she did in her life," said the governor.
Most critics of Christie’s decision offered two main arguments: That lowering the flags should be reserved for members of the military, first responders and elected officials, and that people with substance addiction issues should not be honored.
According to the Associated Press, 23-year old Heather Clause from Richmond, Virginia said the decision was saying if someone sings well, drug use doesn't matter and "you can still be an idol." And a retired Marine posted on Twitter, "Why is NJ lowering our American Flag to honor Whitney Houston? Are they all mad?’ Christie has ordered flags lowered for 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer while he has been in office.
Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset believes Christie did the right thing. According to wltx.com, he said, "She was a cultural icon and brought such recognition to New Jersey that it was appropriate.
Christie put Houston in a group with Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen as "the pantheon of great New Jersey musical talents." While flags were not lowered by former Gov. Christie Whitman when Sinatra died in 1998, Christie ordered flags flown at half staff for Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band who died in 2011.
Houston was born in Newark, and raised in East Orange. After becoming famous, she still visited the public school she attended there regularly, and her family requested that donations be sent there in lieu of flowers.