Discussion in 'Half Mast / Half Staff' started by EmailPoster, Jun 6, 2006.
Half Staff for local military death
The U.S. Flag Code is pretty clear that only the president and the governor of a state can declare that flags should be flown at half-staff, and there are some pretty specific reasons for the flag lowering:
(U.S. Code Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 175, Subsection M)
There seems to be some wiggle room in the "in accordance with recognized customs" part. Different states have different rules for when the flag should be lowered. Sometimes the state legislature can get involved and ask for the flag to be lowered.
In Michigan, for instance, it is the custom of the current governor to lower the flag whenever a soldier from that state is killed. Other states have strict policies about when the flag is lowered. For instance, in South Carolina, the governor said he could not lower the flag when the pope died, even thought the president requested it, because the pope was not a former president, a current or former constitutional officer in the state, a lawmaker in the state or a soldier or police officer killed in the line of duty from the state.
That's not to say that individuals don't lower the flags they have control of to express their own mourning. For instance, some universities have policies that call for lowering the flags when a staff member or student dies. I know a school in my town lowered the flag when a teacher died, and all the McDonald's restaurants in town lowered their flags when the franchise owner died.
I would say it's certainly appropriate that a mayor could ask for the flags to be lowered in his or her city, or that a school could lower their own flag, but it's not spelled out in the law. Perhaps a good civics project would be to check out if your city, county or state has specific regulations regarding lowering of flags, and lobby to have them changed or written if you feel that's appropriate.
Days the American Flag can be flown at half-staff
The American flag is officially flown at half staff as follows on an Annual Basis:
Public Law(PL 105-225), US Code and Executive Order and the Elks Magazine, page 7, May 1999 Edition (Letters to the Editor).
May 15th - Peace Officers Memorial Day - PL 103-322, Sec 320922, 1994
Memorial Day - Last Monday in May - Half Staff until Noon, then raised fully
July 27th - National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day - Signed into law by
President Bill Clinton
Sept 11th - Patriots Day - Signed into Law by President Bush, December '01
December 7th - National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
So if I'm reading this correctly, some local yokel who posts to a yahoo group and asks everyone (3000+ members) in a geographic area to fly their flags at half mast is not following flag protocol? (I mean, her reasoning is honorable, for a fallen police officer who I'm sure deserves honor, but she's out of line asking people to do it just because it was her neighbor?) She's furious with me for suggesting it wasn't within her perview to ask for it. (She could ask her mayor to do it, for instance)...but even then, I was thinking that it's outside the mayor's jurisdiction to call for half mast, and should be done by the Governor?
Yes, as far as the flag code goes, only the president and the governor can officially declare that a flag can be lowered. Some states have different rules, for instance, if their legislature has passed specific regulations saying a flag should be lowered when an active serviceman dies or something of that nature.
Mayors sometimes "declare" flags in the city ought to be lowered, but there's no force of law behind them. Well-meaning individuals, yokels or not, don't have any authority to request other individuals lower their flags, but individuals lower their own flags all the time without official permission.
Separate names with a comma.