When Do Flags Have To Be At Half-Staff?

This has been something that’s been making me more and more confused. I also know it’s been in the news more and more because I think they’re beginning to lower the flag to half-staff more often.

I know there was a lot of commotion when they lowered the flag when Michael Jackson died. There was a HUGE amount of fighting and yelling at each other over it all over the Internet.

I remember people saying that the flag should only be lowered for military things or National things. Not “movie stars” or “every little thing” reasons.

Then I remember a family was killed here in Minnesota and all the flags were lowered the day of their funeral. I remembered thinking it was such a sad thing but it had nothing to do with anyone dying in a war or was it anything like 911.

Then Whitney Houston!!! Remember the hullabaloo over that? People were fighting all over the place. People were really mean about it too. Calling her a drug addict and I thought someone was going to shoot that governor.

What do you think? Just when do you feel our flag should be lowered? Does it bother you if it’s done for a star? For an accidental death of a family in your town? Fallen military only? Just what is your opinion? Do you think it should just be up to each state or do you think it should be federal only?

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10 Responses to When Do Flags Have To Be At Half-Staff?

  1. Laura says:

    I noticed, earlier this summer, that Wal-mart had been flying the flag at half-staff an awful lot, and at times when I hadn’t heard about anyone “important” dying (military, fed/state/city officials, police/fire). I asked one of the associates and she told me that President Obama had instituted some sort of program that says that flags are to be flown at half-staff at least once a month to honor veterans. I’d never heard of this… and unfortunately, I cannot find anything to support it. I CAN find something that says that the flags were ordered to half-staff for Neil Armstrong on Friday, and then when researching the above, they were ordered to be flown at half for the victims of the Ft. Hood Shootings… “through Veterans Day” – but that was in 2009.

    IF the once-a-month thing is true, I don’t like it. As Steve pointed out, it’s just one more way to erode respect for the symbols of this country – if it is flown at half mast ALL the time, it ceases to have importance. It’s kind of ‘tin-foil-hat’ thinking, but at the same time, I can see his point. This President has done everything he can to diminish or even eradicate American Pride. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this was one more thing to advance that cause.

    As for WHO it should be flown for? That’s a tough one. I think we’re right to keep it to “public servants”, particularly Military, Police, and Firefighters. (and believe it or not, I even include K9 units in that). I’m also ok with major political figures… Presidents/VP’s, Secy of State. I grudgingly include Congress, even though it’s getting more and more that they have no more of my respect than a pile of road apples. I’m ok with a town flying it at half when the mayor dies, for example, or local servants (again, police, fire, active military).

    But I didn’t agree with Whitney or with Michael Jackson. I get that they were beloved by millions of fans. They were wickedly talented. They did a lot for their craft. But when you start lowering it for celebs, where do you draw the line? Clint Eastwood, I’d be fine with. He’s a great actor… ok, bad example, he was also a mayor and will probably receive that honor. Ok, how about Harrison Ford? Also an awesome actor. But not flag-worthy. But what about Lindsay Lohan? She’s a train wreck if ever there was one. But if you lower it for one, you lower it for all… so, yeah. Sorry Harrison.

  2. Jenny says:

    I don’t think it should be flown half staff for celebrities. Only for men and women who serve and protect our country. And that includes, police, firefighters, etc…

  3. SKL says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure. I would have thought there would be some established protocol. I would expect it for high-level government officials, national heroes, and domestic tragedies where a bunch of people died. I don’t like it being used for a celebrity who isn’t also a “hero” in the “I saved people” sense of the word.

    I noticed the flag at half-staff at Chick-Fil-A last Thursday, but I forgot to ask why. I figured maybe it was for Neil Armstrong.

    I think lowering the flag to half-staff is supposed to be a gesture of all Americans grieving together, which is something that unites us. Nothing against any dead celebrities, but I don’t see them as playing that role. As for local vs. national heroes, I could see both sides. I guess they could lower just the state / city flag for local heroes, but wouldn’t that be kinda weird? I don’t know.

    I guess as long as it’s done with the right attitude, I don’t plan to lose sleep over it.

  4. SKL says:

    I posted a comment that got lost.

  5. Nikki says:

    I think It should be flown at half staff for our service men and women. I do not think it should ever be lowered for a celebrity. Not to say their life was not important, but I think it does take away from it if it is lowered for someone who simply made movies, or music. It symbolizes, for me, the honor and respect for that life that was lost trying to protect mine. Soldiers, firefighters, police.

    • Nikki says:

      I guess, if someone prominent in the community died, or a tragic accident with a family, I could understand it being lowered. I’m not against that.

  6. starlaschat says:

    It is confussing I use think it was very cut and dried but it seems over the years the list has grown as far as flag being flown at half mass. I’m not sure how I feel about this. When it’s a star it does seem strange and seem to take somthing away from the act of honor but when it is an important community member that everyone seems to know and respect maybe but where do you draw the line? I think the line can get murky over time. I think when Lady Di died they may have flown the flags half mass now it’s been so long I can’t really remember. It is confusing on how they make their choices.

  7. Sheri says:

    Military and gov’t holidays, tragedies only, except in a town who wants to recognize the death of a hometown resident (military). Movie stars should not have that honor. They have little to do with the protection and liberty of our country.

    Thecountyhave little to do flag or protection and liberty if our

  8. Joy says:

    I don’t think they should be lowered for a celebrity either. When you start to do something too much, it takes away the meaning of it and then just where is that line drawn? It’s supposed to be something very special.

    But I also don’t really find anything wrong with counties or small towns lowering them for a freak accident or tragic loss. It’s not the whole state and it is something really important to the community. We lost 4 teen girls in a bad accident last year and the counties lowered the flags on each day of their funerals and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

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