Why are United States flags flying at half-staff today? U.S. flags at government buildings and other places across the country are flying at half-staff today on Thursday, January 13, in honor of former Senator Harry Reid. 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 Harry Reid
Flags are flying half-staff today in memory of Reid. President Joe Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation that flags would fly at half-staff on the day of Reid’s interment. The proclamation was later amended to indicate they will fly half-staff until sunset on Thursday, January 13, FlagsExpress reported.
Here is Biden’s proclamation:
From humble roots in Searchlight, Nevada, Harry Reid rose to become one of the great Senate Majority Leaders in American history. He was a man of action, and a man of his word — guided by faith, loyalty, and unshakeable resolve.
Throughout his long career of public service, Harry Reid was instrumental in passing landmark legislation that made a positive difference in the lives of countless Americans and made our Nation stronger and safer. His devoted service to our Nation was not about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right by the American people.
As a mark of respect for his memory, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, 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 such day. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period 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 twenty-ninth 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.
Reid’s funeral took place on January 8, 2022, in his home state of Nevada. However, Reid had a lying-in-state ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on January 12.
Some states also had their own separate half-staff orders for Reid. In Nevada, a half-staff order was issued for Reid, beginning on December 29 and lasted through the day of Reid’s interment. FlagsExpress shared in an email that Illinois and North Carolina had half-staff notices in place that were independent of Biden’s proclamation.
States Have Additional Half-Staff Proclamations of Their Own
Some states have issued their own proclamations today to remember others who have died.
In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a half-staff alert for U.S. and state flags to honor formal Adjutant General MG Harold Gwatney. The alert will last from January 10 until the day of Gwatney’s interment. Gwatney died on January 7.
In Wisconsin, flags were half-staff on January 12 and will be again on January 14 in honor of two firefighters who died in the line of duty. James Ludlum and Capt. Brian Busch died on January 6 in a crash while they were responding to another crash, Channel 3000 reported. They were killed when a semi truck hit their firetruck.
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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