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April 8th, 2021

When to Fly Flags at Half-Staff

As we approach the 100th day of 2021, flags have been ordered to half-staff 6 times nationally, for a total of 26 days. And 11 times in the State of Colorado for a total of 35 days. During this season of flag lowering mandates, we get a lot of questions regarding how to fly flags at half-staff. And when to fly flags at half-staff.

When to Fly Flags at Half-Staff

Is there a difference between Half-Staff and Half-Mast?

They mean the same thing. “Half-staff” is the term used in the United States. “Half-mast” is commonly used in England, Canada, and Australia. In the US, half-mast is reserved to usage aboard a ship. Where flags are typically flown from masts, and at naval ships ashore.

What is Half-Staff?

A flag flying at half-staff is a symbol of mourning or respect. Half-Staff means the position of the flag when it is half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. Many take this term literally, but the flag should not fly as low as half when flying at half-staff.

How do you fly a flag at Half-Staff?

Hoist the flag to the top of the flagpole, pause for a brief moment, then slowly lower flag to half-staff. The flags of states, cities, and logo flags shall never be placed above the flag of the United States. Therefore, when the U.S. flag has been ordered to fly at half-staff, so are are all other flags or are temporarily removed.

Where is Half-Staff on a flagpole?

Early on, a flag was lowered just low enough to make room for an “invisible flag of death” flying above the flag. There are a few guidelines to properly fly a flag at half-staff.

Option One: lower the flag only as much as the hoist (the height) of the flag.

Option Two: lower the flag equal to the width of the flag.

Option Three: lower the flag half the distance of the rope on the pole.

Option Four: lower the flag using the bottom of the flag as a guide to lower the flag when limp on the flagpole to half.

*It should be noted that all the recommended options the flag is flying above the halfway mark on a pole. 

Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right. One trick we use is to mark the rope with Sharpie to indicate where to tie the rope off when flying at half-staff.

How do I show respect with my residential mounted flagpole?

Simply flying your flag during times of mourning is a sign of respect. A black ribbon can be placed on the flagpole to show respect.

Who Orders Flag to Half-Staff?

The President can issue flags to flown at half-staff upon the death of a important person as a mark of respect to their memory.  Governors are authorized to order US and State flags flown at half-staff. As a mark of respect for former or current state officials who have died, or for a member of the armed forces who has died in active duty.

The Flag Code has established that the flag of the United States is to be flown at half-staff on rare occasions, in the following circumstances:

  • For thirty days (or a month) after the death of a current or former president, or president-elect.
  • For ten days after the death of a current or former vice president, current or retired chief justice, or current Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • From the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, a former vice president or a former Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.
  • On the day of death and the day after for a Member of Congress.

What are standard dates for flying the flag at half-staff?

  • Peace Officer Memorial Day (Unless that day is also Armed Forces Day, like it is this year)
  • Memorial Day until Noon
  • Patriot Day – 9/11
  • National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
  • Pearl Harbor Day

We offer a printable flag flying calendar with all flag flying holidays including days the flag should be flown at half-staff. Download it here. If you would like to be added to our half-staff notification list, contact us.

Source: Wikipedia

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