Why Do We Fly the American Flag at Half-Staff?
In the United States, we fly the American flag at half-staff as an outward sign of respect that shows that the country is in mourning.
The President of the United States will declare nationwide when the American flag should be flown at half-staff. This executive order of flying the flag at half-staff is most often due to a tragic event the country is facing or the death of a prominent figure in the government or military. When the President signs the order, all government buildings, offices, schools, and military bases are required to lower their flags to half-staff. Additionally, all other flags such as state flags, city flags, etc. should be also lowered to half-staff since no flag should ever be placed higher than the American flag.
The governor of each U.S. state and territory can also order that the American flag and state flag be lowered to half-staff as a sign of respect when someone in active military duty or a government dies. These orders only apply to the governor’s state or territory.
Local governments, businesses, and citizens can also lower the flag to half-staff as a sign of respect and mourning when tragedy strikes their community.
How Do I Fly the American Flag at Half-Staff?
According to the United States Flag Code, your flag should first be hoisted to its highest position and then lowered to half-staff. When the flag needs to be lowered for the day, it must again be raised to the highest point and then lowered.
For your staff to be considered properly positioned at half-staff, it must be located where “it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff” according to the Flag Code.
Find answers to any other frequently asked questions about flying your flag at half-staff here.
When Should the American Flag Be Flown at Half-Staff?
As you prepare to display your American flag proudly, you may be wondering questions such as: Do flags fly at half-staff on Patriot Day? Do they fly at half-staff on Memorial Day? What days do flags fly at half-staff?
In addition to the executive orders signed by the President or Governor, there are certain days each year that the American flag should be flown at half-staff.
These dates include:
- May 15 – Peace Officers Memorial Day (half staff all day)
- Memorial Day* (Last Monday in May each year) (half staff until noon)
- September 11 – Patriot Day (half staff all day)
- December 7 – National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (half staff all day)
* Memorial Day this year will be Monday, May 30, 2022.
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