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 Tuesday, December 7, for two different national proclamations. 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 Pearl Harbor Day
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked our forces at Pearl Harbor and other locations in Hawaii, taking the lives of 2,403 service members and civilians and leading the United States to declare its entrance into World War II. It was a day that still lives in infamy 80 years later. As we mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the patriots who perished, commemorate the valor of all those who defended our Nation, and recommit ourselves to carrying forth the ensuing peace and reconciliation that brought a better future for our world. Today, we give thanks to the Greatest Generation, who guided our Nation through some of our darkest moments and laid the foundations of an international system that has transformed former adversaries into allies.
A decade ago, I paid my respects at the USS Arizona Memorial — where 1,177 crewmen lost their lives on that terrible December day. To this day, beads of oil still rise to the surface of the water — metaphorical “Black Tears” shed for those lost in the attack. Reading those names etched in marble was a mournful reminder of the sacrifices and the human cost of protecting our Nation and the ideals this great country represents. Our Nation remains forever indebted to all those who gave their last full measure of devotion eight decades ago. We will never forget those who perished, and we will always honor our sacred obligation to care for our service members, veterans, and their families, caregivers, and survivors.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2021, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to reflect on the courage shown by our brave warriors that day and remember their sacrifices. I ask us all to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the survivors of that unthinkable day. I urge all Federal agencies, interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff on December 7, 2021, in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third 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 Are Flying Half-Staff for Bob Dole
Flags will be flying at half-staff through sunset on December 9 in honor of former Senator Bob Dole, who died on Sunday. You can read the Presidential Proclamation by President Biden below. The proclamation was first issued on Sunday, December 5.
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.
States Have Their Own Half-Staff Proclamations Today
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 Georgia, flags on the State Capitol and in Clayton County will be half-staff on December 7 to honor Clayton County Field Training Officer Henry Laxson. Laxson was shot and killed in the line of duty.
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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