Displaying the Flag at Half-Staff
There are four specific occasions during which the flag of the United States is flown at half-staff, or at the mid-way point of the staff or pole to which it is attached:
- Memorial Day
- Peace Officers Memorial Day
- At the Direction of the President
- At the Direction of a State's Governor
When the flag is flown at the half-staff position, it should be raised and lowered according to the following procedure:
When the flag is hoisted in the morning, it should be raised to the peak (top of the pole) for a few moments, then lowered to the mid-way point on the staff. When the flag is removed at the end of the day, to not lower it from the half-staff position. The person(s) detailed to lower the flag should first raise it to the peak of the staff, then slowly lower it from that point.
Displaying the Flag at Half-Staff on Memorial Day
On Memorial Day the flag is flown at half-staff only until noon. The proper sequence for displaying the flag on this holiday we have set aside to remember the more than one million men and women who have died in defense of our Nation is: in the morning the flag should be attached to the halyard and raised briskly to the top of the flag pole, then slowly lowered to the mid-way point of the pole. At noon the flag should be raised to the top of the flag pole. At the end of the day, the flag should be slowly and ceremoniously lowered and removed.
Displaying the Flag at Half-Staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day
In 1962 the date of May 15th was designated as Peace Officer's Memorial Day, "in honor of the Federal, State, and municipal officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty. On this day the flag should be flown at half-staff for the full day, unless May 15th happens to also be the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day. In the rare occurrences when both holidays fall on the same date, the flag should be flown at the peak.
Displaying the Flag at Half-Staff as a Symbol of Respect
Upon the death of great individuals or current or former government officials, the President of the United States can direct that the flag be flown from the half-staff position "as a mark of respect to their memory." When respect is thus shown upon the death of current or former United States government officials, the flag is flown at half staff according to the following:
- 30 Days from the death of the President or a former President
- 10 Days from the day of death of:
- The Vice President
- A sitting or former Supreme Court Chief Justice
- The Speaker of the House of Representatives
- From the day of death to the day of Internment of:
- An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- The Secretary of an Executive or Military Department
- A Former Vice President
- The Governor of a State, territory, or possession of the United States
- On the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress
Whenever a present or former official of State Government dies, the Governor of that State can direct that the United States Flag be flown at half-staff in respect to their memory.
Q. Is the flag only flown at half-staff in respect to the memory of government officials?
A. No. The president can direct that the flag be flown at half-staff as a symbol of respect for great Americans who are noted for their non-government service and achievement.
Q. Is the flag only flown at half-staff in respect to the memory of U.S. citizens?
A. No. The president can direct that the flag be flown at half-staff as a symbol of respect for other officials and foreign dignitaries.