Half Staff – When and Why?

Flying the US Flag at shaft has become a well-recognized symbol of national grieving, but where did the tradition originate, and how does the decision to lower the flag work?

How did the tradition of flying the flag at half-staff get started?
It’s tough to say, but the oldest commonly accepted reference to a half-staff flag dates back to 1612, when the captain of the British ship Heart’s Ease died on a journey to Canada. When the ship returned to London, it was flying its flag at half-mast to honor the departed captain.

Why would these sailors lower their flag to honor their departed captain?
According to one line of scholarly thinking, by lowering the Union Jack, the sailors were making room for the invisible flag of Death. This explanation jibes with the British tradition of flying a “half-staff” flag exactly one flag’s width lower than its normal position to underscore that Death’s flag is flapping above it.

How long is the flag flown at half-staff in the United States?
It depends on whom the nation is mourning. Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7 of the United States Code outlines strict guidelines for how long the flag is flown at half-staff following the deaths of various members of the government.

The death of a current or former president lowers the flag for 30 days, while the current vice president, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Speaker of the House receive 10 days of half-staff flying following their deaths.

Flags fly at half-staff from the day of death until the date of interment for cabinet secretaries, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, former vice presidents, and the governors of states. The death of a current member of Congress lowers the flag to half-staff on the day of death and following day.

Does the President have any leeway when he’s making these orders?
Yes, the President can make an executive order lowering the flag to half-staff to honor the passing of other important figures or tragic events. For example, President George W. Bush ordered the flags flown at half-staff until the interment of Pope John Paul II. For Mandela, the flags will remain at half-staff until sunset on December 9.

With national tragedies, the length of time seems to be a bit more arbitrary. Following the September 11th attacks, Bush ordered the flag be flown at half-staff until September 16, 2001. The Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunamis in 2004 prompted flags to be flown at half-staff from a Monday through the end of the following Friday.

On what days is the flag always flown at half-staff?
The flag always flies on half-staff on Patriot Day (September 11 of each year), Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15), and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7). On Memorial Day, the flag flies at half-staff until noon, at which point it is raised to the top of the staff.

What if I can’t fly my flag at half-staff?
Some flags, like the ones commonly seen in school classrooms or on houses, are fixed in a certain position on their poles. How does one handle the sticky situation of a flag that physically can’t be flown at half-staff? The United States Code doesn’t cover this conundrum, but the American Legion advocates adding a black ribbon to the top of the flag’s pole to indicate mourning.

Can anyone other than the President order flags to be flown at half-staff?
Sure. Governors of states, territories, and possessions have the authority under the federal flag code to order a half-staffing, as does the mayor of Washington, D.C.

It’s not uncommon for a local mayor to order a half-staffing following the death of some prominent citizen, and occasionally businesses will half-staff their flags to honor the passing of a member of the company. Technically, these sorts of half-staffing’s aren’t covered by the federal flag code. There’s no penalty for breaking the federal flag code, though, so it’s generally no big deal if a local leader wants to honor a prominent citizen in this way.

How does one raise a flag to half-staff?
Surprisingly, not just by raising it halfway up the flagpole. To properly fly a flag at half-staff in mourning, one quickly raises the flag to the peak of the pole before slowly lowering it back down to the half-staff position.

Sign up for our half-staff alerts at the bottom of this page: http://www.eaglemountainflag.com/content/half-staff-days

Your e-mail will never be used for anything other than notifying you that there was been a proclamation regarding lower the flag.

July 21st, 1821 — Spanish flag lowered for last time at San Antonio

This day in Texas History

On this day in 1821, the flag of Spain was lowered for the last time in San Antonio, ending three centuries of Spanish involvement in Texas. The successful independence movement in Mexico, led by Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, resulted in a treaty that brought Texas under the newly independent nation. The Mexican War of Independence marked the end of an era in which the Franciscan padres had founded and refounded missions at approximately forty different sites in Texas. Ten presidios had extended from Central Texas eastward to the site of present Robeline, Louisiana, and southward to Chambers Country. Municipalities ranged from Laredo to San Antonio and Nacogdoches. Ranches and farms dotted the landscape. The majority of the population was probably mestizo. After Mexican independence, Hispanics in Texas were soon outstripped in numbers by Americans. Modern Texas, however, reflects its Spanish origins in many ways.

Flag Day 2017

Staunton native and 28th president of the United States Woodrow Wilson knew the importance of the United States flag.

He knew the dignity with which it had been borne into battle and the aura of solidity with which it had flown over peacetime landscapes; he knew its power to inspire and its ability to make strong men weep. He knew its value — not only to Americans, but to the world, as well — as the highest, best symbol of what men can achieve when driven by convictions of liberty and justice for all.

“I know of nothing more difficult than to render an adequate tribute to the emblem of our nation,” Wilson said. “For those of us who have shared that nation’s life and felt the beat of its pulse, it must be considered a matter of impossibility to express the great things which that emblem embodies.”

Wilson decided a day should be set aside for official remembrance of the flag. What better day, he thought, than June 14, the day in 1777 when Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the upstart nation’s new banner?

In a proclamation printed in the New York Times on May 31, 1916, Wilson wrote:

“It…seemed fitting to me that I should call your attention to the approach of the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by Congress as the emblem of the Union, and to suggest to you that it should, this year and in the years to come, be given special significance as a day of renewal and reminder, a day upon which we should direct our minds with a special desire of renewal to thoughts of the ideals and principles of which we have sought to make our government the embodiment.”

Although Flag Day was embraced by the nation, it was not and never has been a legal holiday. Rather, it was intended by Wilson to be a day for “turning away from the things that touch us personally and absorb our interest in the hours of daily work.”

He said it was meant to be a day in which we remind ourselves of things greater than we are, and “of those principles by which we believe our hearts to be elevated.”

For many years Americans did just that. Every June 14, main streets from coast to coast were a-flutter with flags; marching bands regaled audiences with everything from “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to “Dixie;” legislators made speeches in town squares. America took its flag seriously, and wanted the world to know it.

Today, however, the speeches and parades are largely gone. If a main thoroughfare is lined with flags, many people simply note that it’s too early for the Fourth of July and wonder what the occasion is. And today’s legislator – even more than the politician of Wilson’s day – is frequently viewed with such distrust that the eloquent words of a patriotic speech would go unheeded, or shouted down.

Does that mean there is no glory, honor or pride left to be gained from contemplating the American flag? Wilson left it up to us to decide:

“This flag which we honor and under which we serve is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It had no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It float in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us – speaks to us of the past, of the men and women who went before us and of the records they wrote upon it.”

Staunton has chosen not to forget the flag.

On Saturday, June 10, the Augusta Parish, Beverley Manor and Colonel Thomas Hughart chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution are sponsoring a Flag Day celebration at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., there will be guided tours of the Manse and self-guided tours of the museum, kid’s activities and a main program in which the flag will be honored.

In that program, which begins at 1 p.m., VFW Post 2216 will present the colors. Wilson’s Flag Day proclamation will be read and a clarinet quartet from the Stonewall Brigade Band will provide music. Keynote speaker John Avoli, executive director of the Museum of American Frontier Culture, will be joined by Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull, Wilson library president and CEO Robin von Seldeneck and key members of the three DAR chapters.



Some military humor thanks to the folks at Militaryhumor.net

You can check out our full line of military flags here. We have Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Naval Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve. We also carry guidon flagpoles and flags. Last but not least we can make your unit insignia into a custom flag. We offer all these flags for both outdoor use and with polehem and fringe for indoor use.


Some Phrases From Officer Efficiency Reports - Military humorThese are actual phrases from Officer Efficiency Reports (performance appraisal for the military officers).

“Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

“Got into the gene pool while the lifeguard wasn’t watching.”

“A room temperature IQ.”

“Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together.”

“A gross ignoramus—144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.”

“A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on.”

“A prime candidate for natural deselection.”

“Bright as Alaska in December.”

“One-celled organisms outscore him in IQ tests.”

“Donated his brain to science before he was done using it.”

“Fell out of the family tree.”

“Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming.”

“Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it.”

“He’s so dense, light bends around him.”

“If brains were taxed, he’d get a rebate.”

“If he were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.”

“If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’d get change.”

“If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean.”

“Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled.”

“Takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes.”

“Was left on the Tilt-A-Whirl a bit too long as a baby.”

“Wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.”

Custom Flags – Everything you should know

We do a lot of custom flags here at Eagle Mountain. We love doing all of them.

Every custom flag tells a story; we have done custom flags for business’s, weddings, anniversary’s, gag gifts, military units, flags honoring current deployed military men and women, birthdays, hunting, fishing, golfing tournaments, tailgating, and just about anything else you can think of. Each one is as unique as the people that have us make them. This blog will give you a quick walk through and I will answer some of our most commonly asked questions.

sub-snip cf2 customf-snip owl-creekfishing-cf-snip

Right now you can only order the custom flags over the phone. We are currently working on you being able to do it directly through the website but we are not quite there yet. You can call at us 512-847-0010 or 800-385-5605, we are real friendly I promise.

Once you call, we just need a little information. Do you have the art in a usable format? Usable formats include AI, EPS, high resolution jpg., basically anything in vector format. If that whole sentence was a foreign language to you, no worries you can just e-mail the art or image you want to use and we will be happy to tell you if it is usable. There is no charge for us to determine if your image is usable.  Next question is what size flag are you looking for? Third is going to be, how many flags would you like? There are price breaks for quantity. You can see our pricing here. We are just as happy to do one flag as fifty. Last question will be, would you like single or double sided? We will talk more about single vs. double sided in the frequently asked questions (FAQS) section of this blog. Once we have all this information we can get you an estimate. Then you just decide if you want to turn that estimate into an order.

Once you place the order it will go one of two ways; art that is not usable is sent over for a redraw and usable images are sent directly to the graphic department. We can re-draw just about anything from children’s art work to a patch your Great Grandfather wore in WWI. Once we have the art in a usable format the process goes the same for everyone.

We send the art over to the graphic department. They generate us a proof (this normally takes 24 hours) and we send it to you for your approval. This is your chance to ensure there are no errors and make any changes you would like. Once you have approved your proof, it will go into production. Once it is in production, it normally takes 5 to 7 business days for it to ship. Once it is in the hands of UPS, we will send you your tracking number via e-mail.

custom-flag-proof-snip Example of a proof.

Please note we can not re-make any flag or image that is copyrighted or trademarked.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is the difference between single reverse and double sided flags?

Single reverse only has the image printed on one side but it is clearly visible on both sides. The back side reads in mirror image. The vast majority of flags are created this way, including most state, corporate and military flags. Single-reverse flags are light weight and cost effective.

True double sided flag read correctly on both sides. This is accomplished by sewing two flags together with a liner between them. The liner helps prevent bleed through when sunlight hits the flag. These flags are heavier and double the cost of a single reverse because it is two flags. It is hard to read a flag that is laying flag on the flagpole.

single-reverse double-sided


How long does it take to get a custom flag?

Once you place the order we normally have you a proof or first redraw within 24 business hours. Once you approve the proof it is normally 5 to 7 business days in production. Then it is just transit time via UPS.

Can I rush my order? 

Yes, but there is a rush. The rush fee varies depending on how quickly you need the flag. You can also use expedited shipping methods to get the flag to you faster.

What is the flag made of? 

Standard custom flags are made from our commercial grade nylon, using only lock stitching – NO chain stitching. Other materials are available upon request.

How come you can not make me this flag with Coke-a-Cola image? Or Mickey Mouse image? 

We can not re-produce an image that is copyrighted or trademarked. The only exception to this is if you have written approval from the owner of the image. So, if you wanted a special Mickey Mouse flag with your child’s name we would need a letter from Disney stating it is okay to make the flag.