Governor directs flags at half-staff through Monday

American and state flags are to fly at half-staff through sunset on Monday, Dec. 9, in honor of former South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died on Dec. 5.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation for flags to be at half-staff at all federal government buildings, institutions and vessels, “as a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela.”

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has directed that U.S. and state flags be at half-staff during this time period.

“Nelson Mandela’s ‘long walk to freedom’ changed our world for the better,” Malloy said. “The cause of his life became the world’s cause, and in 1987, the state of Connecticut joined him by banning state investments in companies that did business in South Africa in support of his mission of ending racial segregation policies.

“His reverent passion for justice,” Malloy continued, “will continue to inspire generations of citizens to improve social, political, racial and humanitarian conditions around the world.”

Flags also will be at half-staff Saturday, Dec. 7 in Connecticut in recognition of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and the lives lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, based on a separate directive by the governor.

Died at age 95

Mandela died Thursday at age 95 after years of bad health. He was the elected president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, becoming the first black leader of the black-majority country and overcoming decades of apartheid in that nation.

He previously had been imprisoned for 27 years by the white-led government due to his efforts with the African National Congress to change the apartheid system.

‘An inspiration for freedom’

In his proclamation, Obama said the United States “has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice and human dignity.”

“His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better,” Obama said in his proclamation. “His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the life of nations or our own personal lives.”

Commitment to nonviolence

Shelton’s two members of Congress issued statements on the death of Mandela.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said Mandela “rose above the crushing constraints of apartheid to become a beacon of hope for a world bitterly divided by race.

“His passion for justice and social change, combined with his commitment to the principles of nonviolence and perseverance, made him a powerful messenger of freedom, peace and equality where these ideals had been spurned for too long,” Himes said.

“The world has lost today one of the most influential and compelling figures in modern history,” said Himes, a three-term Democrat.

Rep. DeLauro: ‘An inspiration’

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said her heart “is broken over the passing of this great man. An anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa, Nelson Mandela was so much more than a president. He was an inspiration and symbol of how the world should be, not how it was.

“Being in Johannesburg for South Africa’s first ever all-race election was an honor I will never forget,” said DeLauro, a 12-term Democrat.

Shelton is divided between two congressional districts, represented by DeLauro (Third District) and Himes (Fourth District).