Why Are Flags Half-Staff Today? See Proclamations for October 16

Why are flags flying half staff?

Getty Why are flags flying half-staff?

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 through sunset today, October 16, 2021, in honor of the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. President Joe Biden put a proclamation in effect for today to pay respect to law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. 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 today.


Flags Are Flying Half-Staff for the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

On Saturday, October 16, all flags will be flying at half-staff in memory of the law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. This is part of the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. This is a nationwide half-staff proclamation.

Here is the Presidential Proclamation by Biden.

In honor of the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service being held in Washington, D.C., to remember and pay respect to law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and their families, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order 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 on Saturday, October 16, 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 fifteenth day of October, 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.

This is a special event taking place because in-person events were postponed during  Peace Officers Memorial Day, which takes place on May 15 during National Police Week.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that 701 names of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty (including 434 who died in 2019 and 2020) were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and their names were read during a candlelight vigil on the night of October 14. In-person events scheduled for Police Week in May 2021 were postponed because of the pandemic and rescheduled for October 13-17, 2021.


States Have Also Lowered Their Flags in Honor of Others Who Have Died

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

In Alabama, flags are flying half-staff in Camden in honor of Camden Police Chief Lorenza “Tyrone” Dale, who died on October 5. Dale served in the police department for more than 28 years.

In Alaska, flags are flying half-staff on October 16 in honor of former Alaska State Representative Jeannette James.

In West Virginia, flags are flying half-staff on October 16 in memory of former West Virginia Senator Orphy Klempa. He served two terms in the state House before being elected to the state Senate, where he served until 2012.


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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