Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff: What You Should Know

You shouldn’t always fly the American flag at the top of the flagpole. In certain circumstances, you should fly it halfway up the flagpole. Known as half-staff, it’s a universally recognized symbol of morning and respect. You’ll even find provisions about flying the American at half-staff listed in the U.S. Flag Code.

Death of Government Figures

One instance in which the American flag is flown at half-staff is when a principle figure of the government has died. Specifically, the U.S. Flag Code says the following about flying the American flag at half-staff following the death of a government figure. “… by order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.”

If a President or former President dies, you should fly the American flag at half-staff for 30 full days. If a Vice President, Chief of Justice or Speaker of the House of Representatives dies, you should fly the American flag at half-staff for 10 days.

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon. In other words, you should only leave the American flag halfway up the flagpole until noon on Memorial Day. After noon has passed, the U.S. Flag Code states that you should raise it back to the top of the flagpole. The American flag is flown at half-staff on several other important days of the year, but Memorial Day is the only day on which it’s flown at half-staff until noon.

September 11

In addition to Memorial Day, the American flag is often flown at half-staff on Sept. 11. Of course, this is intended to honor and remember the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Patriot’s Day

On Patriot’s Day, you should also fly the American flag at half-staff. Held annually on the third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day is an annual holiday that commentates the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, including the Battles of Lexington and Concord as well as the Battle of Menotomy.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

The American flag should be flown at half-staff on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which occurs on Dec. 7.

Presidential Order

It’s important to note that the President can order the American flag to be flown at half-staff at any time. If the President issues the order, all businesses and individuals in the United States should fly their American flag at half-staff.

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