Half Staff

Updated: August 14, 2011

Reprinted from RU friend Chuck

Check out his blog here

I’ve received several emails from people slamming the President for not ordering flags to be flown at 1/2 staff to honor the members of DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6 to most).

Look, I’m certainly not going to vote for him, but I agree with Captain Gutsycall.com on this. You wanna know why we shouldn’t fly our flags at 1/2 staff for them, but we do when a sufficiently high-ranking officer, politician, or other national tragedy occurs?

Because we already do.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated among black and Northern white communities after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th century it had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

In the end, the 30 men killed in Afghanistan, while a tragedy, and a huge loss to the Special Operations Community, do not warrant the rendering of any greater, or any fewer, honors than what is rendered to any other servicemember of equivalent rank who is killed in action. Those 30 are but 30 of 6205 servicemembers who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Should we fly the flag at half-mast every time a servicemember is killed in action?

We fly the flag at half-staff every memorial day, from sunrise to noon, to honor those who’ve fallen. To honor ALL of those who’ve fallen.

There are customary days to fly the flag at half-staff:

Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15th (Unless that day is also Armed Forces Day.) (sunrise to sunset)
Memorial Day, last Monday in May (sunrise to noon)
Patriot Day, September 11th (sunrise to sunset)
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7th (sunrise to sunset)
There are only a few people who are expressly given this honor, and the length of time the flag is flown at half-staff for each differs.
Thirty days after the death of a president or former president
Ten days after the death of a vice president, the chief of justice or a retired chief of justice or the speaker of the house of representatives.
Until the burial of an associate justice of the Supreme Court, secretary of a military department, a former vice president, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.
On the day of and the day after the death of a (sitting) member of Congress.

To order the flag flown at half-staff across the nation, as in the case of recently deceased GEN Shalikashvili, is an extremely rare honor. And one that, in my humble opinion, should be reserved.





  1. skoon

    August 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I agree 100%. While a tragedy to lose so many at one time their sacrifice is remembered best not by lowering the flag or calling them victims (as many newspapers seem apt to do) but rather buy a strong resolve to continue the fight they died fighting and achieving a victory that will honor their sacrifice and not make it in vain.

  2. Sig

    August 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Our governor (in WA state) lowers the flag for every fallen service member either stationed here or from here. I appreciate the gesture, but I would rather be honored by having my flag continue to fly tall, should I bite the big one overseas. That’s what I’m there for, after all.

  3. Sapper21

    August 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I hate to hear myself say this,But i do agree with those who believe that we shouldn’t lower the flag as often as we do, As a former member of my state’s honor guard, We honored those who proceeded us every day
    we when to work. Our unit’s motto is: RESPECT,HONOR ,TRIBUTE “We give them nothing,They have earned the honor we render them” Our unit was & still might be the only that trains in the standards of the 3rd Inf “OLD GUARD” have and uses the cassion. So as we draw closer to Patriot’s day,Let’s remember what lowering the flag is about & what it sybolizes.

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