USA Today reports President Obama reached a "sad but remarkable milestone" this week, having ordered flags to half-staff more than any other president in history. He reached the mark Sunday following the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead. That made 66 times Obama has ordered flags to half-staff. Fourteen of those proclamations were made in the wake of national tragedies, accounting for 79 of the 158 days the flag spent at half-staff under Obama.
George W. Bush ordered the flag lowered 58 times; Bill Clinton did so 50 times. The eight presidents before them only ordered the flag to half-staff an average of 10 times each. “When there's polarization among the American people, presidents are seeking a way to find a mechanism to unify people," a University of Houston professor who tracks presidential proclamations says. "This allows him to connect on an emotional level rather than a political or a policy level." (Read more American flag stories.)