Why are flags half-staff today, Tuesday, May 5? We don’t have any national half-staff proclamations from President Donald Trump, but many states have put proclamations in place from sunrise to sunset. Many of these are in memory of those who died from the coronavirus pandemic, while others honor people who are no longer with us for other reasons. Here’s a look at the people being honored today by lowered flags across the country, in alphabetical order by state.
Here are the State Half-Staff Proclamations for Today
In Connecticut, state and U.S. flags are half staff indefinitely in recognition of all those whose lives were lost or affected by COVID-19. Gov. Ned Lamont said: “This global pandemic is impacting the lives of so many families, friends, and loved ones in Connecticut, and we mourn for those who have been impacted. This is an incredibly trying time and a tragic period in our state’s history. I continue to urge every resident of Connecticut to stay home and practice social distancing as much as possible, because not only may your life depend on it, but it could also impact the lives of others.”
As of early May 5, 30,173 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Connecticut and 2,556 people have died.
Illinois has joined the states who are lowering their flags for the victims of COVID-19. Flags are being flown at half-staff in remembrance of “All who have perished from COVID-19 in the Land of Lincoln,” reads Gov. JB Pritzker’s statement. As of early May 5, Illinois had 63,840 cases and 2,662 deaths.
In Kansas, flags have been flying half-staff in Overland Park since May 4 in memory of police officer Mike Mosher. Flags will fly half-staff until the day of his burial. Mosher was on his way to work Sunday when he witnessed a hit-and-run crash and followed the suspect in his personal car, KSHB reported. The suspect stopped and there was a confrontation. The two shot at each other and the suspect died at the scene. Mosher later died at the hospital.
Officers were given the day off on Monday to grieve the loss of Mosher. Mosher was only 37 and leaves behind a wife and daughter, Fox 4 reported.
In Massachusetts, flags at soldiers’ home facilities and veteran cemeteries began flying half-staff on April 19 until a date to be determined in respect of veterans and Soldiers’ Home residents who died from COVID-19. The flags will be raised when the governor’s emergency order is concluded for COVID-19.
In Michigan, state and U.S. flags are flying half staff indefinitely, according to a proclamation that went into place on April 10. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating impacts on families across our state. I’m directing flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of those we have lost to this awful virus. The flags lowered will serve to remind us all that every life lost is a story and legacy of a loved one gone too soon. As we continue on, we will carry their memories. My deepest condolences to the families of those whose lives were tragically cut short by COVID-19.”
Residents, local businesses, and others are encouraged to fly their flags at half-staff too. In Michigan, there have been 43,950 confirmed cases as of May 5 and 4,135 deaths.
In New Jersey, all state flags and U.S. flags are being flown at half-staff in New Jersey indefinitely in memory of the people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus outbreak. The proclamation was placed by Gov. Philip D. Murphy on April 3 and is still ongoing. As of early May 5, New Jersey had 129,345 cases and 7,951 deaths.
The proclamation for New Jersey reads, in part:
WHEREAS, these individuals were family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, and include healthcare workers, first responders, and others who gave their lives working bravely and tirelessly on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, each and every life lost to COVID-19 is a profound tragedy for us all; and
WHEREAS, we sadly know that even despite our aggressive efforts, the number of lives lost will continue to rise dramatically in the coming weeks and months, both here in New Jersey, throughout the United States, and around the world; and
WHEREAS, the prohibition of social gatherings, which is necessary to prevent further spread of the virus and loss of life, prevents funerals from going forward in the manner that they would under normal circumstances; and
WHEREAS, as a result, we cannot properly mourn the loss of individuals who pass away during this time, whether from COVID-19 or other causes, and say the goodbye that each and every one of them deserves; and
WHEREAS, while nothing can fully make up for this cruel reality, lowering the flags to half-staff can symbolize our State’s collective grief and cause us all to remember the awful human toll that this pandemic has inflicted upon this State, our nation, and the world; and
WHEREAS, it is with great sorrow that we mourn the passing of all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and those who may lose their lives in the future, and extend our deepest sympathy to their families, friends, colleagues, and communities; and
WHEREAS, it is appropriate for us all to keep in our thoughts and prayers all of those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are suffering;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:
1. The flag of the United States of America and the flag of New Jersey shall be flown at half-staff at all State departments, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities indefinitely, starting on Friday, April 3, 2020, in recognition and mourning of all those who have lost their lives and have been affected by COVID-19.
In New York, all flags on state government buildings will fly at half-staff indefinitely while the state is “on pause” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on April 8. As of early May 5, New York had 327,374 cases and 24,944 deaths.
New York’s website reads: “Flags on state government buildings have been directed to be flown at half-staff in honor of those we have lost to COVID-19 and will remain lowered while New York is on PAUSE.”
Cuomo said in a statement: “Every number is a face and we have lost so many people, many of the front-line workers putting themselves at risk to do the essential functions that we all need for society to go on. In honor of those we have lost to the virus, I am directing all flags to be flown at half-mast. And I continue to urge all New Yorkers to be responsible, adhere to all social distancing protocols and remember the life you are risking may not be your own.”
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered that all commonwealth flags on commonwealth facilities, public buildings, and public grounds fly at half staff indefinitely in honor of the victims of the 2019 novel coronavirus. The proclamation was put into place on April 8.
In a statement, Wolf said: “Too many Pennsylvanians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and, unfortunately, many more will die. Already we have lost friends, parents, grandparents, and siblings. We have lost first responders. We have lost community members. Each of these Pennsylvanians is irreplaceable. Each deserves to be honored individually for their contributions to our commonwealth, but this cruel disease will not give us a respite to mourn. This virus prevents us from honoring the dead at traditional gatherings. We cannot have funerals, wakes, or sit shiva. I hope this flag lowering provides some solace to the grieving families and friends. And, I hope it serves as a reminder of the reason for the sacrifices Pennsylvanians are making to help their community survive this crisis.”
All residents of Pennsylvania are invited to lower their flags to half staff also. As of early May 5, 52,922 cases of coronavirus were recorded in the state, along with 2,850 deaths.
In Texas, flags are flying half-staff in the city of Houston in memory of police officer Jason Knox. Flags will fly half-staff until sunset on the day of his burial. Knox died in a helicopter crash while on duty on Saturday, May 2.
On Saturday around 2 a.m., Knox and another police officer, Chase Cormier, were responding to a drowning in Houston. They were in HPD helicopter 8375F and helping patrol officers check the bayou, Click2Houston reported. The helicopter crashed into an apartment’s leasing office. Cormier and Know were injured and Knox later died at the hospital. Cormier is still hospitalized. Knox was remembered as kind, generous, gentle, and honorable.
Flag Half-Staff Traditions
It’s customary to only display the American flag from sunrise to sunset, unless the flag is well illuminated overnight. In those cases, the flag might be displayed 24 hours a day. A number of holidays call for the U.S. flags to be lowered to half-staff every year. In addition, the President of the United States may order a proclamation for the flags to fly half-staff when someone of prominence dies or when there is a national tragedy. State governors may also call for national flags to be flown at half-staff in their state when a present or former government official passes away.
If you’re wondering about the term half-mast vs. half-staff, in the United States half-mast refers to flags being lowered on a ship, while half-staff refers to a pole on a building. However, outside the United States, the more commonly used term is actually half-mast. The terms tend to be used interchangeably in common vernacular.
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