Why Are Flags Half-Staff Today? See Proclamations for March 26-27

Why are flags flying half staff?

Getty Why are flags flying half-staff?

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 this weekend (Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27) in honor of former Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright. Some states are also flying their flags at half-staff for additional reasons too. Read on to learn more details about why the flags are lowered.


Flags Are Flying Half-Staff for Madeleine Albright

Flags are flying half-staff today in memory of Albright. President Joe Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation that flags would fly at half-staff from March 23 until sunset on March 27.

Here is Biden’s proclamation:

Madeleine Albright was a force.  She defied convention and broke barriers again and again.  She was an immigrant fleeing persecution.  A refugee in need of safe haven.  And like so many before her — and after — she was proudly American.

As the devoted mother of three beloved daughters, she worked tirelessly raising them while earning her doctorate degree and starting her career in American diplomacy.  She took her talents first to the Senate as a staffer for Senator Edmund Muskie followed by the National Security Council under President Carter.  And then to the United Nations where she served as United States Ambassador, and ultimately, made history as our first woman Secretary of State, appointed by President Clinton.  A scholar, teacher, bestselling author, and later accomplished business woman, she always believed America was the indispensable Nation, and inspired the next generation of public servants to follow her lead, including countless women leaders around the world.  Madeleine was always a force for goodness, grace, and decency — and for freedom.

As a mark of respect for former Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright and her life of service to our Nation, 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 March 27, 2022.  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 twenty-third day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.


States Have Additional Half-Staff Proclamations of Their Own

Some states have issued their own proclamations today to remember others who have died.

In Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a half-staff order through April 2, the day of the memorial service for U.S. Rep. Don Young. Young will also lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on March 29.

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan issued a half-staff alert for March 26 in honor of former state delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr., who represented legislative District 10. Burns died on March 17 and his interment is on Saturday, March 26.

Hogan also ordered flags at half staff on March 26 in honor of former Lt. Gov. Samuel Bogley, who died on March 10. Bogley served as Lieutenant Governor from 1979-1983 and his interment is on March 26.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a flag half-staff order on March 23 until the day of Edward Long’s funeral, which has been scheduled for March 27, WOWKTV reported. Long was a firefighter for the City of Portsmouth Fire Department. He died after suffering a medical emergency while on the line of duty after returning from a call.


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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