Why are United States flags flying at half-staff today? You’ll be seeing U.S. flags at government buildings and other places across the country flying at half-staff today on Monday, December 6, in honor of former Senator Bob Dole. Some states are also flying their flags at half-staff at state buildings too. Read on to learn more details about why the flags are lowered.
Flags Are Flying Half-Staff for Bob Dole
As a mark of respect for Robert Joseph Dole, a statesman like few in our history and a war hero among the greatest of the Greatest Generation, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on December 9, 2021. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
Flags will also be flying at half-staff on Tuesday, December 7 for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
States Have Half-Staff Proclamations of Their Own
Some states have issued their own proclamations this week to remember those who have died.
In Alabama, flags in Wilcox County are flying half-staff from December 2 until sunset on the day of interment for Deputy Madison “Skip” Nicholson. Nicholson was shot and killed in the line of duty on December 1. You can read Gov. Kay Ivey’s order here.
In Michigan, a half-staff order was issued on Tuesday night, November 30, by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for all government and public buildings across the state. The order was in place until further notice to remember the victims of the Oxford High School shooting in Oakland County.
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 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 dies.
If you’re wondering about the terms half-mast versus half-staff, in the United States half-mast refers to flags being lowered on a ship, while half-staff refers to a pole on the ground or a building, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command’s blog The Sextant. However, outside the United States, the more commonly used term is actually half-mast, according to The Sextant. The terms tend to be used interchangeably in common vernacular.
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