Facts about flying the United States flag at half-staff:

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation on March 1, 1954 regarding the proper time and duration for flying the flag at half-staff.
  • When flying the flag at half-staff, the flag should be raised to full-staff briskly for a moment and then lowered to half-staff reverently. When lowering the flag, it should be raised to full-staff briskly before being lowered reverently.
  • On Memorial Day, the flag shall be flown at half-staff until noon, and then raised to full-staff until sunset.
  • Upon the death of the President or former President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff for 30 days.
  • Upon the death of the Vice President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or Speaker of the House of Representatives, the flag shall be flown at half-staff for 10 days.
  • Upon the death of a Justice of the Supreme Court, a Cabinet member, former vice-President, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Majority or Minority Leader of the Senate, Majority or Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the flag shall be flown at half-staff at from the day of death until burial.
  • On the day and day after the death of a United States Senator, House Representative, territorial delegate, or resident commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the flag shall be flown at half-staff in Washington, D.C. and the home state or territory of the official.
  • Upon the death of a state governor (or territorial equivalent for U.S. possessions and territories) the flag shall be flown at half-staff on all federal facilities in that governor’s state from the day of the governor’s death until the day of burial.
  • The flag shall be flown at half-staff upon executive order of the President after any other tragic events. Only the President and state governors have the authority to order the flag to be flown at half-staff.
  • The current law regarding the flying of the United States flag (including language specific to the flying of the flag at half-staff) is in the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 175.

If every detail of the half-staff rules were to be followed, it seems to me that the US Flag could be at half-mast for the majority of the year. There's (I think) 6 former US Presidents still alive. Presidents Carter, Ford and Reagan are getting up on years. If they all happened to pass in the same year, that's 3 months of half-mast gone. Half the Senate is over 65- all very good candidates for heart attacks or some other form of passing... accidents, assassination (what with terrorist attacks going on- and possibly coming again). I'm not sure how many ex-vice-presidents we still have left, but it's probably somewhere in the same ball-park as our living presidents- so there's another potential month gone.

Yech.

President Eisenhower, leader though be may have been, should have checked his math. His executive order was a good idea in theory, I think, but it might have fallen short of practicality. I mean, if we get attacked again at the wrong time and at the wrong place, we could easily end up with our US Flag at half-mast for more than 6 months.

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