Back in January President Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-staff for a week on public buildings, grounds and military installations, to honor those killed in the Arizona shooting. Six people had been killed, including a federal judge and fourteen wounded, including a congresswoman. Remember the intense coverage that story got?
This past weekend, in what was the greatest single loss of life in the Afghan war, thirty Americans — 22 of them SEALS — and eight Afghans were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down during take-off. It was the worst single loss ever for the SEALS. But this time, there was no Presidential order for flags to be flown at half-staff. I didn’t see any anti-war protests, like we used to see when Bush was President. And the dutiful news coverage was minimal. Why do you suppose that is, hmm?
Though some flags have been flown at half-staff, Obama didn’t make an official order, as he has on other occasions, such as for the Arizona shooting or when civil rights activist Dorothy Height died. Thirty American servicemen died in action without being honored by a federal order to fly the flag at half-staff. All we got from Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta were empty words about “honoring” these fallen men by not letting up in the war in Afghanistan. But if we had decent leaders, they would would have at least officially directed flags to be be flown at half-staff to honor those fallen warriors.
The official order to fly flags at half-staff can only come from the President, at the federal level or from governors, at the state level. A few governors have made such proclamations, and I commend them. But we don’t have to wait for the “official” word from a President who really doesn’t care, when it comes to honoring the American military. We can fly our own flags half-staff. And in the absence of decent federal leadership, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m flying my flag at half-staff to mourn for my country, until I begin to see some healing.
I have excerpted the following information from: http://www.gettysburgflag.com/FlyFlagHalfMast.php
“Examples of deceased citizens that might be honored by lowering the Flag to half-staff include local religious leaders, youth leaders, honored teachers or sports coaches, local politicians, or a local hero. There need be no authorization from the government for the private sector (non-government) to use the Flag to honor any citizen. It is important to note that the Flag Code is a code, it is intended to provide guidance and is not obligatory. It carries no civil or criminal penalties for “misuse” of the Flag. Individuals are not acting illegally when using the Flag according to their own usage. Only on government / public buildings is the flag code required to be followed.” (emphasis my own)
If your flag is in a fixed position and cannot be lowered, the appropriate alternative is to tie a black streamer to the top of your flag pole. I have decided to keep the black streamer tied to my flag (pictured above) as long as I continue to mourn. I’m hoping the 2012 elections will give us a reason to come out of mourning and celebrate freedom. Won’t you join me in honoring those who have sacrificed everything for the United States of America?
Notes: For more on United States Flag etiquette, see United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, section 7 at https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/7
The instructions provided at http://www.ehow.com/how_2188593_fly-us-flag-memorial-day.html say to use two black streamers, rather than just one:
“Add black mourning streamers to a flag that cannot be lowered to half-staff or that is displayed mounted on a wall. Suspend two ribbons or fabric streamers 1 to 3 inches wide and as long as the short side of the flag from a fixed flagpole just under the finial. Hang one streamer at each top corner of a flag hung vertically on a wall or in a window. Never attach the streamers to the flag itself.”
(My old copy of the Boy Scout Handbook, circa 1942, agrees, saying, “When displayed on a small staff, as in a parade, mourning is indicated by attaching two small streamers of black crepe to the spearhead, allowing the streamers to fall naturally.”)
[UPDATE — November 7, 2012] Due to the re-election of Obama (OWHNI) I continue to mourn for my nation and for the loss of constitutional government. As long as I am in mourning, I will continue to fly the flag at half staff.
[January 1, 2013] This morning I removed the black ribbon from my flag pole. I have decided to end my mourning for our nation’s loss of freedom. The America I grew up in is dead and gone. I have passed through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) and I am ready to get on with my life.
I will continue to honor the memory of freedom by flying the flag every day, and I will attach the black ribbon (or ribbons) on those days when mourning is appropriate. I thank God for his blessings that no government or political entity can ever replace.