Understanding flag etiquette is the duty and responsibility of every American. One of the most excellent etiquettes in the world. Treat the national emblem well to show your patriotism to the country and our soldiers who protected us against enemies. If you have ever wondered about flying it at half staff and its notices, this is precisely the article you should not miss. We’ll provide the most helpful information about this important etiquette for you to have a deep sight of it. You also know how to hang flag half staff on the house efficiently and adequately through it. The best way to honor our iconic symbol of freedom.
What is a flag at half staff?
Half staff (also called half mast) is a position when it is halfway down the flagpole. In the US, it is used to express sorrow over a death, a sad public event or in the time of national mourning of the country. It started in the 17th century.
On March 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the first proclamation for flying the flag at half mast at the federal government buildings, military bases, and vessels.
Flying the American “Star-Spangled Banner” at half staff follows the executive order of the president of the United States or the governor of the state through a presidential proclamation. The flags of all government buildings, schools, military bases, etc. must be flown at half mast when an order is issued. American citizens can also fly it at half mast at home.
Why do we fly the American flag at half staff?
It is to tribute the death of government officials, honor military members or other citizens as a mark of respect to their contributions. Moreover, it also honors federal holidays such as Memorial Day and commemorates national tragedies. In our country, this ceremony is very solemn.
The President of the US or state’s governor is the one who has the right to decide to issue the order to hang our national symbol at half mast at the funerals of important people of the US government to show respect and mourn.
When and How long to hang at half mast displayed?
Specific days to fly our “Old Glory” at half staff:
- Peace Officier Memorial Day (May 15)
- Memorial Day (last Monday of May)
- Patriot Day (September 11)
- National Firefighters Memorial Day (Sunday in Fire Prevention Week in October)
- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)
On these days, the American symbol is displayed at half mast from sunrise to sunset. However, on Memorial Day, we hang it from sunrise until noon and then raise it to the top to honor all heroes who are devoted to the country.
In addition, it is based on a presidential proclamation or proclamation by each state’s governor; and certain information of the death of the current or former President, Vice-President, Chief Justice, or current Speaker of the House.
The US has many strict regulations for this displayed etiquette. Such as for 30 days for the president; 10 days for the vice president, the day of death and the following day for members of Congress; and the day of death for Supreme Court justices.
How To Fly American Flag At Half Staff At Home
With traditional flagpole
If you have a traditional vertical flagpole with a pulley system, you can follow the same standard etiquette procedures.
First, you should check the flag status. Make sure it is in good condition to fly.
Then if all goes well, attach your 3×5 flag (with grommets) to the flagpole. There are several ways to do it, you can refer to our previous post talking about how to attach a flag to a flagpole. In case it’s already on the pole, start by untying your halyard.
It’s time to do the etiquette. You should salute during the process. Hoist the flag to the highest point briskly, then slowly and solemnly lower it to the midway point.
Finally, when it comes to the right position, retie the halyard.
It should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered when taking it down for the night or day.
The time to leave it in this position depends on the national days or the announcement from the president.
With house-mounted flagpole
For a house-mounted flagpole, it will be difficult to move the flag down to the half-mast position following the etiquette, because there is no grommets here.
If your mount has 2 angles that can change the position of the flag, you can lower it as long as it doesn’t touch the ground. Instead of pointing straight up, it will come out almost parallel to the ground in this situation. This method is also recognized.
In case you can not change the angle of the flagpole, according to the American Legion, attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top is an acceptable option. It’s a strip of black nylon with a grommet on one end. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe and the same length as the “Old Glory”. Attached right below the spearhead to naturally fly above.
This is also a good way to show respect and patriotism in national events.
Things You Should Notice About Half Staff Flag Display
- Etiquette of public or government buildings should follow the Flag Code. For individuals, the Code is guidance and optional, but you should follow it with the respect.
- Do not let it touch the ground.
- When the US flag is flown at half staff, city, company and state flags should be removed or at half staff too.
- The American “Star-Spangled Banner” will fly at half mast regardless of whether other country flags is at full mast.
- Only the President of the United States, the state’s Governor, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia can issue an order of half mast flying.
- There are occasions when it will be lowered for non-American significant characters such as King Hussein of Jordan in 1999, Nelson Mandela in 2013, etc.
- It is never at half mast on the battlefield.
Knowing how to fly the flag properly is a great way to show your honor and duty to our country. So, you now can do it easily following our tutorial and interesting information about this meaningful etiquette.