All of us have seen the United States Flag displayed at half staff from time to time. The flag being displayed in this manner is a sign of respect or mourning. When we see it displayed at half staff, we begin to wonder what happened, who died. We seem to only associate it with the death of a dignitary. But that is not always the case.
To begin with, the President of the United States can authorize the flag to be hung at half staff when the country is mourning the loss of a dignitary. A Governor of a state can also make a proclamation for its display in this manner as well.
March 1, 1954 was the date the first proclamation was issued, by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower. With this proclamation the dates and time periods were set for all federal buildings, federal grounds and naval vessels.
In the case of the Death of a US President or former President, the flag will be displayed at half staff for 30 days.
With the death of a U.S. Vice President, Supreme Court Chief Justice/retired Chief Justice, or Speaker of the House of Representatives the time is 10 days.
o From death until the day of internment - US Supreme Court Associate Justice, member of the Cabinet, former Vice President, President protempore of the Senate, or the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives. Also for federal facilities within a state or territory, for the governor.
o From death until the day of internment - US Supreme Court Associate Justice, member of the Cabinet, former Vice President, President protempore of the Senate, or the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and House of
o On the day after the death of US Senators, Members of Congress, territorial delegates or the resident commissioner of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico Representatives.
The flag should also be displayed at half staff for the following dates:
May 15th, Peace Officers Memorial Day
Memorial Day, until noon, then raised to full staff
July 27th, Korean War Veterans Day
September 11th, Patriots Day
December 7th, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
To properly place the flag at half staff, it should first be hoisted quickly to full staff, then lowered slowly into position. When taking the flag down from half staff, it should be raised to the top slowly, then quickly lowered.
The only place where the U.S. Flag is never lowered to half staff for the above mentioned times is the moon.