Location where American Flags Do not have to be flown at Half Staff

Discussion in 'Half Mast / Half Staff' started by cybertjc, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. cybertjc

    cybertjc Guest

    I am told that there are locations where American Flags do not have to be flown at half mask. Is this true and where are these locations?
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I don't believe that there are any locations that are specifically exempt from half-staffing. If there were, one would assume that they'd be included in the language of the presidential proclamations that direct half-staffing -- but they're not. For example, President Bush's proclamation of the death of former President Ford said:

    "Now, therefore I . . . do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds, and Naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days . . . I also direct that for the same length of time, the representatives of the United States in foreign countries shall make similar arrangements for the display of the flag at half-staff over their Embassies, Legations and othe facilities abroad, including all military facilities and stations." Section 7m of the "Flag Code" extends this to non-government activities.

    Note, however, the careful wording dealing with US flags displayed in foreign countries. Imagine, for example, a situation at a military base in Germany, where the US and German flags are flown side by side. It would not be proper to half-staff the US flag, because then the German flag would be displayed higher than the US flag. (It would also not be proper to half-staff the German flag, unless the German government issued its own proclamation.)

    Also, there will be situations in which it is impractical to half-staff the flag because of the physical arrangement of the flagpole, or its accessibility. An extreme example would be the flags that the Apollo astronauts left on the moon (assuming that there's anything left of them!).

    When dealing with any aspect of the Flag Code, it's important to note that the Code is not a "holy writ" that must be followed without question. It is a set of guidelines for how to use and display the flag in a dignified way. Section 4 of the Code says:

    "The following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America is established for use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by . . . departments of the Government of the United States."

    The Flag Code is the law, in the sense that was adopted by Congress and is part of Title 4 of the US Code. However, with one trivial exception, there are no legal penalties for not following it. Like anything else, it has to be subject to common sense.


    Peter Ansoff

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