U.S. flag at half-staff

As a veteran, I suppose I am more sensitive than other folks as to how and when our nation’s flag is displayed, particularly when it is inappropriately displayed at half-staff. Too often, the death of a local official is acknowledged by lowering the U.S. flag to honor the life of the deceased as was the case recently at a local bank and at a local fire station.

Therefore I thought I would take this opportunity to recommend a briefing on when it is appropriate to lower our nation’s flag to half-staff according to the United States Flag Code, the Federal regulations governing the proper display of the United States flag.

First and foremost, please keep in mind that the US flag represents the United States, not a locality or an organization. When the US flag is lowered to half-staff, it signifies the entire nation (or an entire state) is mourning the death of a principle person or persons identified in 7 (m) of the United States Flag Code.

Secondly, only the President of the United States or the Governor of each state (including the Mayor of the District of Columbia) may authorize the lowering of the US flag to half-staff, and only for the reasons and time periods specified in the US Flag Code.

Please be aware that when a local official or organization lowers our nation’s flag to half-staff to honor the passing of one of their own, it severely diminishes the reverence and honor accorded this solemn act, especially for honoring US military service personnel and first responders killed while on active duty. Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have strongly urged adhering to the requirements of the US Flag Code when it is appropriate to lower the US flag to half-staff.

Therefore, in the absence of an order from the US President or our state governor, it is recommend that a locality or organization lower their own pennant to half-staff to honor a deceased member of their own.

However, if a qualified first responder is killed while serving in the line of duty, the state governor’s office should be contacted with a request that the US and state flags be lowered state-wide to half-staff on the date of interment.

Although I completely understand the heart felt gesture of displaying our nations flag at half-staff to honor the death of a local official, I hope I have conveyed a better understanding of when and under what circumstances it is appropriate to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff. I encourage everyone to familiarize yourselves with the United States Flag Code.


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