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

Half-Staff Flags

Getty Why are flags half-staff today?

Why are flags half-staff today on September 11? Flags are half-staff today to remember those who died on 9/11/2021. In addition to this national remembrance, a number of states have their own proclamations in place. Here’s a look at the people who are being honored across the country with lowered flags:


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, including first responders and members of the military.

A joint resolution was passed on December 18, 2001, designating September 11 as Patriot Day and directing that flags be lowered to half staff today, Flags Express reported.

President Joe Biden signed a proclamation for National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, extending from September 10 through September 12. You can read the full proclamation below:

Twenty years ago, our Nation was forever changed.  On September 11, 2001, as ordinary people started their days in Manhattan, Shanksville, and Arlington, cowardly acts born out of twisted hate stole 2,977 innocent lives, devastating families and communities.  People across the world were shocked by the cruelty and horror of the terrorist act, even as they were inspired by the bravery of the first responders.  Two decades have passed since that day of terror, yet the trauma, the pain, and the quest for justice — both personal and collective — still haunt our memories.  Planes piercing buildings.  Smoke filling skies.  Towers turning to dust.  The injured fleeing to safety.  The heroes rushing toward danger.

During the National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, we honor those who lost their lives on September 11 — lives that will never be forgotten.  We also commemorate the humanity and selfless sacrifice of the first responders, service members, and ordinary citizens who banded together to rescue survivors and build a community of support around those who suffered unimaginable loss.  Even as we continue to recover from this tragedy, we know for certain that there is nothing that America cannot overcome.  Through sorrow, with God’s help, we find strength.  Through remembrance, in God’s mercy, we find healing.  We move forward with resolve, forever cherishing the memories of the souls who perished that day.

The seeds of chaos, planted that September by those who wished to harm us, blossomed instead into fields of hope for a brighter future.  A new generation of patriots — many of whom were just children on that bright September morning, some of whom had not yet been born — now serve in our Armed Forces, as law enforcement officers and firefighters, as paramedics, in the halls of our Federal buildings, and beyond, determined to build our country back better, safer, and more united.

During these National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, we solemnly reflect on the freedom and tolerance that are part of our American character.  We commit to preserving the memories of our fallen loved ones with the same tenacity with which we uphold the American values that are the root of our strength.  We pray for the victims and all those who still mourn their loss.  May the power of prayer bring comfort, and may God bless the United States of America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 10, 2021, through September 12, 2021, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance.  I ask that people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities.  I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.  I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in prayers for spiritual guidance, mercy, and protection.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of September, 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.


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.

Ohio issued a half-staff alert for state Rep. Doug Green, with flags remaining lowered until sunset on September 11, the day of his funeral, Flags Express reported.

Wisconsin issued a half-staff alert for September 11 in honor of Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcom J. Barber, Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, and Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement: “The story of the Barber brothers and their family is a tragedy that has been a source of pain for the New London community, our state, and our country now for the better part of a century. I am grateful for the work of many now nearly 80 years later who helped bring these brothers home.”

In 2015, the USS Oklahoma Unknowns were exhumed for identification, and the Barber brothers were identified on June 11, 2021, Flags Express reported.


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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