Have you ever noticed a flag that is only halfway up the flagpole? Have you ever wondered why?
A flag that flies in this direction is called a half-staff or half-mast.
This is done in many countries as a symbol of respect, sadness or need, or a form of honor.
The flag does not always have to be hoisted exactly halfway; sometimes it is acceptable to have the “half-mast” flag slightly lower or slightly higher than the center of the flagpole or mast.
Originally, “half rod” meant that the flag had to be hoisted a flag width from above so that the “invisible mourning flag” could stand on top.
When someone who has served their country, state, or community dies, the president, governor, or perhaps even mayor will order that all flags in their territory be hoisted at half mast in honor of the deceased.
Last week, flags were hoisted at half mast across the country for Colin Powell, who has just died of COVID-19 complications. In this case, both President Biden and Governor Mills ordered the flags to be lowered.
According to the Veterans Administration, considering when the whole nation is in mourning, it’s an easy way to remember when to fly the United States flag with half occupation. These mourning periods are given by either the President of the United States for national memorial or by the governor of a state or territory for local memorial in the event of the death of a member or former member of the federal, state or territorial government or judiciary. The heads of departments and agencies of the federal government may occupy personnel on the buildings, sites and naval ships for which they are responsible.
On Memorial Day, the flag should only be hoisted on the half-staff from sunrise to noon and then hoisted briskly at the top of the staff until sunset in honor of the nation’s fighting heroes.
In the early days of our country, there were no regulations for flag flying with half crew and therefore there were many conflicting guidelines. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the right times.
The flag was to fly on all federal buildings, lands, and naval ships in the United States and its territories and possessions at Half-staff for 30 days following the death of the president or any former president. It is said to fly with half-staff 10 days after the death of the Vice President, Chief Justice, or President of the United States Supreme Court or Speaker of the House of Representatives. For a deputy judge of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former vice president, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the majority leader of the Senate, the minority leader of the Senate, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, or the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the flag is from the day of death until to show the burial in half rod.
The flag is to be hoisted on all federal buildings, grounds, and naval vessels in the Washington, DC area by half-staff on the day and day following the death of a U.S. Senator, Representative, Territorial Delegate, or resident commissioner and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Half-staff should also be flown by these officials on any federal facility in the state, congressional district, territory, or Commonwealth of these officials.
Upon the death of the governor of a state, territory, or possession, the flag should be hoisted with a half-staff on all federal facilities in that governor’s state, territory, or possession from the day of death until burial.
The President may order that the flag be hoisted half-staff to mark the deaths of other officials, former officials or foreign dignitaries. In addition to these occasions, the President may order the flag being shown by half a staff after other tragic events.
The flag should be raised quickly to the tip of the pole before slowly lowering to the half-pole position.