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Planning ahead for half-staffing needs

U.S Flag flying over car dealershipI noticed too many flags this Memorial Day that were not lowered to half-staff. Part of that likely was due to not knowing it was a half-staffing day (until noon), but mostly it was because the flags were too big to flown at half-staff—to have done so the flag would have brushed against trees, the ground and other things.

flag on top of bank buildingConsider the number of flagpoles that are poorly sited. I see them mounted on top of buildings, bolted vertically onto the side of buildings, or standing so closely beside buildings that to fly the flag at half-staff would in effect, be disrespectful to the flag.

I don’t want to be the flag police, but if you fly a super-sized flag, you need to make sure that the flag can fly freely and hang without touching the ground when flown at half-staff. Perhaps these businesses should buy a smaller flag to fly when half-staffing needs arise.

There is a lovely subdivision I drive by that has a flag pole at the entrance. The area immediately around the base of the flagpole is heavily landscaped, and now those trees are quite tall. The flag is proportionate to the pole and and pleasing to the eye, but when flown at half-staff it drapes into the tops of the trees. I don’t know how they get close enough to the flag pole to raise and lower the flag. The solution for them is to fly a smaller flag and/or cut the trees down. And the lesson to the rest of us is don’t create elaborate landscapes around the base of the flagpole.

The flag code does not define specifically what half-staff means. I guess those who worded it thought we would be smart enough to figure out what HALF-STAFF meant. I think it means one-half of the height of the flag-pole.

black streamers on flag poles

Black streamers on flag poles too short for half-staffing

If you are flying a flag from a pole mounted diagonally off the front of your house, or if you have a flag mounted flat against a wall, where flying at half-staff is not possible, then consider using black streamers to signify mourning. It’s not in the flag code, but is a traditional and acceptable means of showing respect.

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