Can my company fly the US flag at half-mast for a former employee?
No. According to the Flag Code, only the President of the US or your state Governor can order the US flag lowered to half-staff. You can half-staff your company flag. If everyone were to half-staff the US flag at will, the symbolic value of that honor would be lost. Another option is to display black crepe near the entrance to your building, perhaps with a photograph of the former employee.
A former student of our school was killed in Iraq. Can we lower the flag?
No. According to the Flag Rules, only the President or the Governor of your state can authorize the flag to be flown at half-staff at governmental institutions, including public schools. Civilians are invited to also fly their flags at half-staff on those occasions. If overused, the symbolic impact of half-staffing the flag would be lost. Our recommendation is to hang black crepe at the entrance to the school building in honor of the former student’s sacrifice to his country.
Is the Governor allowed to order the US flag half-staffed for anyone he or she chooses?
The Flag Code was changed to allow Governors to order the flag to half-mast to honor fallen soldiers from their state (See new law 110-41 below).
Public Law 110-41
One Hundred Tenth Congress of the United States of America
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Thursday, the fourth day of January, two thousand and seven
To amend title 4, United States Code, to authorize the Governor of a State, territory, or possession of the United States to orderthat the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces from that State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007’.
SEC. 2. FINDING.
Congress finds that members of the Armed Forces of the United States defend the freedom and security of the United States.
SEC. 3. PROCEDURE FOR NATIONAL FLAG TO BE FLOWN AT HALF-STAFF IN THE EVENT OF THE DEATH OF A MEMBER OF THE ARMED FORCES.
1.Issuance of Proclamation- Subsection (m) of section 7 of title 4, United States Code, is amended in the sixth sentence–
- by inserting ‘or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty’ after ‘present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States’; and
- by inserting before the period the following: ‘, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia’.
2.Federal Facility Consistency With Proclamation- Such subsection is further amended by inserting after the sixth sentence the following new sentence: ‘When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation.’.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
Governors also have declared the flag to be flown at half mast for others, typically police and firefighters, who have been killed in the line of duty.