Have you ever noticed a flag that is only halfway up the flag pole? Have you ever wondered why?
A flag that flies in this fashion is called a half-mast or half-mast.
This is done in many countries as a symbol of respect, mourning or distress, or a form of honor.
The flag does not always have to be hoisted exactly halfway, it is sometimes acceptable to have the “half-mast” flag slightly lower or slightly higher than the middle of the pole or mast.
Originally, “half-staff” meant that the flag had to float a flag width from the top to allow the “invisible mourning flag” to be at the top.
When a well-known person who has served their country, state or community dies, the president, governor, or perhaps even the mayor, will order that all flags under their jurisdiction be half-masted in honor of the deceased.
Last week, flags across the country were half-masted for Colin Powell who just died of complications from COVID-19. In this case, President Biden and Governor Mills ordered the flags to be lowered.
According to the Veterans Administration, an easy way to remember when to fly the United States flag at your waist is to consider when the whole nation is in mourning. These periods of mourning are proclaimed either by the President of the United States, for national memory, or by the governor of a state or territory, for local memory, in the event of the death of a member or of a former member of the federal, state or territorial or judicial government. Heads of federal government departments and agencies may occupy buildings, land and warships under their jurisdiction.
On Remembrance Day, the flag should be hoisted mid-body from sunrise until noon only, then hoisted briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.
In the early days of our country, there were no regulations to fly the flag half-length and as a result there were many conflicting policies. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the appropriate times.
The flag is expected to fly at half mast for 30 days in all federal buildings, lands and ships in the United States and its territories and possessions after the death of the president or a former president. It is about flying 10 days at half mast after the death of the retired Vice President, Chief Justice or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives. For an associate 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 leader of the minority in the House of Representatives, the flag must be flown at half mast from the day of death until burial.
The flag must be hoisted at half mast on all federal buildings, land, and warships in the Washington, DC area, on the day and day after the death of a Senator, Representative, Territorial Delegate, or the United States Resident Commissioner. the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It should also be transported at half mast to all Federal facilities in the State, Congressional District, Territory or Commonwealth of such officials.
On the death of the governor of a state, territory or possession, the flag shall fly at half mast over all federal facilities in the state, territory or possession of that governor from the day of death until burial.
The President may order the flag to be flown at half mast to mark the death of other officials, former officials or foreign dignitaries. In addition to these occasions, the President may order the display of the flag at the waist after other tragic events.
The flag should be raised quickly to the top of the staff before being lowered slowly to the half-mast position.