Why Are Flags Half Staff Today? See Proclamations for September 11

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Why are  United States flags flying at half-mast today? You’ll be seeing U.S. flags at government buildings across the country flying at half-staff through sunset today, September 11, in memory of the victims of September 11, 2001 and the heroes of that day. Today is also known as Patriot Day. There are also state half-staff proclamations today too. Read on to learn more details about why flags are lowered today.


Flags Are Flying Half-Staff in Memory  of the Victims of September 11 & the Heroes Who Responded to the Attack

Flags are flying half-staff today in memory of the victims of September 11, 2001 and the many people who responded heroically after the attack, including first responders, members of the military, and others in the U.S.

President Donald Trump signed the following proclamation for today in honor of Patriot Day 2020.

In 2001, our Nation, united under God, made an unbreakable promise never to forget the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans who were senselessly killed on September 11. On this sacred day — Patriot Day — we solemnly honor that commitment. As the bells toll, we call by name those who perished in the terrorist attacks in New York, New York; Arlington, Virginia; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In cities and towns across our great country, we stand in solidarity to remember the victims and mourn their stolen hopes and dreams.

On a day that began as ordinary as any other, terrorists carrying out a sadistic plan murdered thousands of our fellow compatriots. With shock and disbelief, we watched our first responders, encumbered by heavy equipment and hindered by debris and smoke, rush with conviction and courage into the void to rescue those in despair. With pride and sorrow, we felt the tremendous bravery of those aboard Flight 93, who summoned the courage to charge the terrorists in a counterattack that saved countless American lives. As the day closed, America steadied its resolve to hold accountable those who had attacked us and to ensure it would never happen again.

The courage, heroism, and resilience Americans displayed on 9/11, and in its aftermath, are perpetual testaments to the spirit of our country. While our Nation was anguished by this attack, the grit displayed that day — the very essence of America — was a reminder that our citizens have never failed to rise to the occasion. Heroes sprang into action in the face of great peril to help save their fellow Americans. Many laid down their lives. As we reflect on the events of that September morning, let us recommit to embrace the stalwart bravery displayed and reaffirm our dedication to defending liberty from all who wish to deny it.

To fulfill our collective promise never to forget, we impart the memory of that fateful day to our children and grandchildren. The smoke that rose from the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania field carried away the souls of innocent Americans. As we recall the images of our American Flag raised from the ashes of Ground Zero and the Pentagon, we are reminded that good triumphs over evil. We recommit ourselves to fortifying our cherished American values so that future generations will know in their souls that the United States is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This Patriot Day, we commemorate the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001, we pray for the families who carry on their legacies, and we honor the unmatched bravery of our Nation’s first responders. We also commend those who, in the days and years following the attack, answered the call to serve our country and continue to risk their lives in defense of the matchless blessings of freedom.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2020, as Patriot Day. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the innocent people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of the innocent people we lost that day and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor those victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.


Flags Will Fly at Half-Mast Until Sunset

The flags will fly at half-mast today until sunset.

Every year, the United States flies the flags at half staff on other occasions too, including Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15), Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7), on Memorial Day (until noon), and upon other presidential proclamations.


States Are Lowering Their Flags in Honor of Those No Longer with Us

Illinois state facilities 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. The proclamation was first declared on April 17.

In Kentucky, flags are half-staff from September 10-16 after the state reached 1,000 coronavirus deaths.

In Nebraska, flags are half-staff until sunset today in memory of Lincoln Police Department Investigator Mario Herrera.

In New Hampshire, flags are half-staff through September 11 in memory of former Governor Stephen Merrill.

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.

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 Ohio, flags are half-staff at the Statehouse, Vern Riffe Center, Rhodes Tower, and in Cuyahoga in memory of Cleveland Police Detective James Skernivitz, who died in the line of duty.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf 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.”


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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