Why Do We Fly Flags At Half-Staff? | Answers With Joe

so you driving to work and you go past a

post office or city hall or a police

station and you see that the flags are

at half staff immediately you catch your

breath and you grab your phone to check

Twitter while you're driving to see what

happened so like do we lower flags at

half-mast and who do we do it for and is

it just mayor has it been happening a

lot more lately

superdude Doug prade asked why don't we

fly flags at half-staff to mourn a death

and when did it start I was really glad

to get this question because I am one of

those people when I see the flag at


I must know immediately what happened

and I Drive past City Hall every single

day as you might have figured out by now

I don't like not knowing things well

apparently the act of lowering the flag

is been going on since about the 17th

century it's said that they lowered it

to make room for an invisible flag of

death overhead cuz that's not creepy or

anything by the way if you're wondering

the term is half-mast on the Bessel line

at sea like on the mast of the ship it's

half-staff when it's on land can't

imagine how embarrassing that would be

to get that wrong there are basically

four reasons why the flag is taken to

half-mast the death of a federal

official some kind of disaster federal

holidays or just whenever the hell the

president feels like of the for federal

holidays when the flag is lowered to

half-staff the most famous one is

Memorial Day Memorial Day is actually

one of our oldest federal holidays it

was started in 1868 to honor the dead of

the Civil War but more of that is unique

because the flag is actually at

half-staff before noon but after noon it

goes up to the top again this was

created to honor the dead in the morning

and then celebrate the survivors of the

war in the afternoon

eventually surviving veterans got their

own day Veterans Day in 1954 and from

that point on it became more of a symbol

of respect for the dead before noon and

then hope for the future in the

afternoon the other three standing

holidays are Peace Officers Memorial Day

Pearl Harbor Day and now 9/11 which is

sometimes called patriots day so that's

only a few days out of the year when the

flag is lowered to half-staff on a

regular basis all the other times are in

response to some kind of tragedy paints

the pit in my stomach whenever I see

them down at City Hall the main reason

for the lowering of the flag is the

death of federal officials and it breaks

down like this members of Congress have

the flag lowered on the day of their

death and the following day associate

Supreme Court justices have the flag

lowered from the day of their death

until their funeral current vice

presidents and speakers of the house get

a full ten days as through the sitting

or former Chief Justice of the Supreme

Court but we really pull out all the

stops for the president sitting or

former presidents get a full 30 days

when they die the last time this


Gerald Ford in 2006 outside of that

major disasters get the half-staff

treatment have issued by a presidential

proclamation some of the most recent

ones include Hurricane Katrina the

Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy

Hook shootings by the way these are

really more like suggestions there isn't

any way to enforce flag laws because

they're raising and lowering of a flag

is considered political speech which is

protected by the First Amendment mostly

though people and organizations that

have a flag up or more patriotic and

more respectful the flag rules that most

people so it's not usually an issue so

like anything the President does flag

lowering can be a bit of a political hot

potato especially at a time when we're

having mass shootings almost on a weekly

basis deciding which ones to raise and

lower the flag for can be a bit of a

tricky decision for instance President

Obama got some criticism in July of this

year when he didn't immediately lower

the flag after the shootings of five

servicemembers in Chattanooga in fact

memes were circulated the claim that he

lowered the White House flag for Whitney

Houston but not for these five soldiers

as PolitiFact's pointed out though the

White House in fact did not lower the

flag for Whitney Houston it was only

lowered in one place the state of New

Jersey and that was issued by Republican

Governor Chris Christie apparently some

people get New Jersey and the White

House confused now this isn't about

Obama Bush he found his own fair share

of criticism over similar things but

what it basically comes down to is that

if you're the president it's better and

safer to err on the side of being more

respectful so if it feels like the

fights been lowered a lot more lately

it's because it probably has of course

the president can only lower flags and

federal offices the governor of each

state can lower flags at state offices

like Chris Christie did in New Jersey

and mayor's can lower the flag at City

offices so between the president the

governor and the mayor there's a whole

lot of up and down action on that pole

that sounded dirty the big question

becomes is that all a bit too much does

lowering the flag too often cheapen its

meaning or is it more important to show

the maximum amount of respect in all

situations tell me what you think of the

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