2021 American Flag Half-Staff Calendar
You probably already know that when you see an American flag flying at half-staff, it is to indicate that the country or your state is in mourning. What you might not know is that there are very specific rules and guidelines as to when the American flag should be flown at half-staff and when it must be flown at half-staff.
When To Fly An American Flag at Half-Staff
Only the president or state governor can issue a half-staff order for a flag flown on a government property. The order will also specify for how long the American flag or state flags should be flown at half-staff. The usual reasons for a half-staff proclamation include deaths of prominent U.S. government, state or local officials; military personnel; civil-service individuals or foreign dignitaries. However, there are specific dates on which we always fly the American flag at half-staff. These American flag half-staff dates, which include September 11th, May 15th and others, are shown on the calendar below.
All of that is why it’s also important to know the proper way to display an American flag at half-staff. There are a few American flag half-staff dates that might surprise you: for example, we fly the flag at half-staff only from sunrise to noon to commemorate Memorial Day. However, we fly the flag at half-staff for a whole day (which is considered sunrise to sunset) each year on May 15th for Peace Officers Memorial Day. This day, set by a resolution approved in 1962, honors fallen officers who gave their lives to protect their communities. We also lower the flag to half-staff on National Firefighters Memorial Day, the date of which changes but is always in October.
What If I Don’t Have a Flag Pole?
There are other ways to allow your American flag to symbolize mourning, even if you are unable to fly it at half-staff in the traditional way. If you’re mounting your flag on a building and you’re concerned that you could have an American flag catch on branches or meet some other obstruction, you can use a black ribbon that attaches from the top of a building-mount flagpole. The mourning ribbon should be the length of your flag and can attach to the top with the same clip as that holds the flag to the pole. Of course, you’re only required to fly your American flag at half-staff if it’s outside a government building. Therefore, if it’s a flag displayed at your home or private office, you can leave it full-staff if you prefer.
How Do I Know I’m Doing It Right?
If you’re concerned about flag etiquette, that’s understandable. We take our American flags seriously, so we all want to make sure that we understand the proper ways to handle them. Some of the rules regarding flag etiquette and handling are not widely known. For example, the flag shouldn’t be worn or used for advertising in any way. Although companies and politicians routinely display the American flag to show pride, it should not be intended to be a commercial item. Although it might seem fun and festive to use an American flag as a tablecloth on the Fourth of July, or wear one as a tie or pocket square on a special occasion, doing so is seen as diminishing the flag’s dignity and should be avoided.
There are lots of appropriate ways to display an American flag; you could use a traditional flagpole or a house-mounted flag pole. And, don’t worry about it if you prefer the term “half-mast” over “half-staff”. The experts use it both ways, and either is correct.
Once you are confident that you know how to properly display your American flag, either at full- or half-staff, you want to know that you’re doing it at the correct times. Gettysburg Flag Works will send you a notification when a half-mast day is declared, so you won’t miss a beat. Sign up here for half-mast notifications.
Learn More About Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff
Displaying an American flag shows your pride in and patriotism for your country. By using it to show respect for the fallen, for deceased leaders and for times of national tragedy, we show our strong bond with our fellow Americans nationwide.
Interested in learning more about flying your flag at half-staff? Be sure to check out our half staff dates and flag rules for more details, including a video demonstration of how to lower your flag to half-staff properly, and information about what to do if you are unable to lower your flag to half-staff.