Why Flags Remain Half Staff

If like me, you’ve been wondering why the flags are still at half-staff throughout Cape May and the country, you are not alone. Guests arriving in Cape May continue to ask why the flags are at half-staff?  Of course there is history why flags remain half-staff.

When in doubt, ask Google, or a millennial.

In 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation standardizing when to fly the flag at half-staff.  The number of days spent mourning the loss of a public official, correspond to the rank or office the individual held.

“The flag should fly at half-staff for 30 days at all federal buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and its territories and possessions after the death of the president or a former president,” the proclamation provides.

Number 41, George H. W. Bush passed away on November 30th. He was 94 years old. We can expect flags in our area to remain at half-staff until December 30th or 31st.

Bush was honored at funerals in Washington and Texas. He was also honored with canon fire at the local Coast Guard base. 

Some have quipped that the American flag has more recently been lowered than raised to its normal height. Between the death of former Mayor Jerry Inderwiese and fallen U.S. Troops that may seem so.

The history why flags remain half-staff also dictates how long others shall receive the honor. By policy:

  • 10 days for the vice president, the chief justice or a retired chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, or the speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • From death until burial for an associate justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former vice president, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the majority leader of the Senate, the minority leader of the Senate, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, or the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

When The Flag is Lowered

On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes. The briskly was dictated by Eisenhower himself, though it is unclear how municipalities adhere to this.

The president may order the flag to be flown at half-staff to mark the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries. In addition to these occasions, the president may order half-staff display of the flag after other tragic events.

Let’s hope by 2019 the flag is returned to normal posture and remains there for the duration of the New Year.



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