After my post on the 4th of July I received a lot of questions about the rules and etiquette regarding flying the official flag of the United States - the Stars and Stripes - particularly regarding half mast or half staff.

My father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and many of these rules were drilled into my head - especially during the sixties! I never forgot what he told me:
"You may not agree with what the government is doing, but the flag represents more than the administration currently holding office. It stands as a symbol of what this country was created for and it stands for all those who suffered and died protecting those ideals."
As a result of what my father said, though I may do a piece of artwork or post a blog complaining about the politics and politicians of the day, when I display the flag of the United States I give this symbol of what our nation stands for the respect it deserves and I always will. I believe we must always remember to separate the ideals of this country from those who are temporarily holding sway over those ideals.

With that said, here are a few more facts on flying or displaying the flag at half mast:
  • The Stars and Stripes should be flown at half-mast to honor the death of a national or state figure and this should be ordered by the Governor of a particular state or the President of the United States.
  • You may see a city, organization or business flying the U.S. flag at half mast for the death of an employee or member and the federal flag code does not prohibit this practice; however, it would be better flag etiquette to fly the city flag or business flag at half mast on a seperate pole and keep the U.S. flag at full mast until an order from the Governor or President has been issued. When the United States flag is flown at half-staff, State and other flags should be flown at half-mast as well or removed altogether.
  • The flag is flown at half mast for 30 days after the death of a President or former President, and for ten days after the death of a Vice President, Chief of Justice or a retired Chief of Justice or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • The flag is flown at half mast until the burial of an associate justice of the Supreme Court, secretary of a military department, a former Vice President, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.
  • The flag is flown at half mast on the day of and the day after the death of a member of Congress.
  • On Memorial Day the flag is flown at half-mast until noon, then raised to full mast until sundown.
  • For flags that can't be lowered the American Legion says that attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an alternative, and the ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag.
You may download The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions here: http://senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf