For some time, I have worked on an article about the controversy surrounding lowering the American flag to half-staff for our military members who are killed in action. The referenced article does a good job talking to people on both sides of the issue.
It is a thorny issue because if you are against the practice, you are deemed insensitive to the families of the soldiers who have died. If you are for flying the flag at half-staff, either for the duration of the war or for individual soldiers killed in action, you are chided over your insensitivity to the soldiers still serving.
Half-Staff Flags Stir Meaningful Debate
Historically, flying your nation’s flag at half-staff meant one thing.
Even before the white flag came to signal a request for truce, lowering the national flag over a battlefield was a darker expression of hopelessness. It meant, simply, a bitter end.
Now, we lower the U.S. flag to signify a nation in mourning. In a way, it’s a carryover from the old tradition. It’s a symbol of death – the ultimate submission.
It’s simultaneously an unmatched gesture of respect for the dead and a fundamental show of defeat.
This clash of symbols, one wrapped in the other, is the foundation of an emotional debate under way in Congress and nationwide in governors’ offices, military blogs, editorial pages, fire stations and VFW halls. It’s fueled by a push from some U.S. lawmakers to lower flags in individual states that are mourning locals killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am not in favor of lowering the flag to half-staff for two reasons.
First, the United States Flag Code is very specific about for whom, when and for how long, the American flag is lowered to half-staff. That is in Section 7(m), which also specifies who has the authority to order the U.S. flag lowered.
Second, I feel it dishonors the men and women who have fought bravely so the flag can fly high and free. It does a disservice to these and shows disrespect for their service.
Yes, it is a tough issue, but if we follow the guideline, the U.S. Flag Code, we are better off.