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Update to U.S. Flag Half-Staff Primer

half-staffed.JPGYesterday, I wrote an article explaining when, why, and how, to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff. After publishing the article, it was pointed out that one small piece of critical information was missing. I will rectify that today.

This photograph was taken in September (Patriot’s Day) at a shopping center near where I live, and is a classic example of what NOT to do. I wrote an article about the problem here.

The U.S. flag is never to be eclipsed by another flag, state, city, or company. This is covered in Section 7(c) of the U.S. Flag Code.

That means when you lower the American flag to half-staff, all other flags must be lowered to half-staff as well. In fact, most state flag codes list the same half-staff days as the federal code so this assures compliance with your state flag codes.

So remember, when lowering the U.S. flag to half-staff, lower the other flags first, then lower the American flag.

5 thoughts on “Update to U.S. Flag Half-Staff Primer

  1. If one person is used to lower and rise the US Flag what is the proper way to carry it inside to fold on a flat service, or is there a proper way.
    Thanks Ron

  2. Hey Ron, that’s a great question … and one I haven’t addressed in a long time.

    One point of confusion exists around the tri-folded flag and its use. The U.S. Flag Code doesn’t address a proper way to fold the flag or even mention the tri-fold. It is a convenient way to carry and store flags, used regularly, but it’s not required.

    If there is only one person, it is perfectly fine to lower the flag and fold it into a square for transport and storage. If two people are available, the tri-fold can be a very respectful procedure to participate in, because of the meticulous care taken in the process.

    Military flag codes are more developed with fully defined procedures in place, as well as personnel for carrying them out. The only references I find indicating this procedure comes from burial flags given to families of servicemen. (There may be other references, but I can’t locate them.) This tradition was picked up by others in the military and the Boy Scouts of America, making it part of the culture. As a Scout leader, I taught this process for several reasons—respect and discipline.

    So Ron, if possible, it is great, but it is not required for civilians by the U.S. Flag Code.

  3. Don, I have struggled with your same question for years. When I started writing The Daily Flag, I spent days trying to find a government resource that would notify me when a half-staffing order had been issued. That information is always available through the White House press office, but that means the press office must be constantly monitored, and that’s not very efficient for most of us.

    In Texas, we can sign up for an email alert from the Governor’s office, so we get quick notification of when the state flag has been lowered to half staff, or when the Governor calls for the U.S. flag to be lowered (a prerogative of all state governors by law).

    I think a movement may be underway within the halls of the federal government to initiate a plan whereby all state governors will be notified when federal installations are notified (post offices for example, and federal court houses). I suggest that you contact your state governor’s office and see if they have a plan in place, or one in the works.

    Best Wishes, and thank you for writing. Deborah

    P.S. The most recent half-staffing order (for Fort Hood) called for flags to go back to full staff last night at sundown.

  4. Sir, what is the procedure for lowering a US flag to half staff from it’s postion atop a flag pole when flown there permanently? Do you lower it straight to half staff or do you lower it all the way down then raise it to half staff?

    1. When the flag is flown 24/7, you simply lower the flag to the half-staff position from its full staff position. When it is time to raise it to the top again, lower it the way down, then smoothly raise it to the top again. Thank you Todd, for writing. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

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