Flying the Flag Half-Staff

Thots and Links

An American Legion site links to flag rules how to display the flag, including half-staff displays.

These however didn't speak clearly to me on some of the details. How large are the black bows and streamers? When do you quit having the flag at half staff? What do you do about the projected flags? (Is there a half-staff picture for projection?) Can I keep my flag at half-staff when the government has stopped doing so? When the flag is illuminated at night, is the incidental light of a street light adequate?


Frag Code(From an email)
Where half-staffing is not appropriate: for indoor and permanently-mounted flags or outdoor flags on very short staffs. It is recommended an older mode of expressing mourning. Attach black ribbons to the flag-staff (above the flag but below the finial). A black ribbon no more than 10% as wide as the flag itself, but twice as long as the flag, can be tied with a knot or bow at its center so that the two resulting parts that hang down are each as long as the flag.
Excerpts From The Flag Code of The United States - Public Law 94-344, July 7, 1976
(emphasis mine (email author)

6-6-04: Thanks to whoever sent the email with the preceding infomation about the flag.--ovk


Some assumed answers

State of Maryland illustration for mourning flag A projected flag with mourning bow. Wall mounted flag with two bows
State of Maryland A Projected Flag Flag on a wall
Flag mounted slantwise from house. Telescoping flag that cannot be lowered. Flag at night--lighting okay.
Flag from side of house Flag that won't lower Black bordered flag

USA-MIA FLAG This flag is on a telescoping pole (the inset shows a brand name and the slip joint between sections of the pole. An article on the frustration of owning a pole that wouldn't support half staff display. Back

BORDERED FLAG This flag has a gold strip and a deep blue, almost black border. One internet source mentions that a black border on the flag is a sign of mourning so this flag represents how it might look. Another source talks of gold borders reserved for military flags. I appeal to you for enlightment on this flag and a better picture of a black bordered mourning U.S. flag. The inset in the upper right shows a white stripe, a red stripe, the gold, the blue-black and a bit of the house in the background. Back

More on Lighting

A well lighted flag can be impressive. An acquaintance noted how impressive the lighted flag on the bluffs in Sioux City looked. And when I was on the Adair (IA) Fire Department we debated putting a flag in front of the building. Someone pointed out that if we didn't raise and lower it each day we would have to light it. To make displaying it easier we decided to light it. I must say the firemen who installed the lights did a very good job. Flags lit only by street lights leave me wondering whether "the stars and stripes can be distinguished from a distance." That quote was the one standard of adequacy that I found.

There is a downside to lighting the flag at night. It uses energy which contributes to global warming; the energy costs money; and the light itself is a form of pollution. Some progressive towns with an eye toward preserving our heritage have quite detailed regulations for night lights. In general these regulations flesh out the idea that no fixture should shed light above the horizon nor illuminate a neighbor's premises. Two paragraphs about flagpoles:

From Ketchum, Idaho: "Flag Poles - Upward flagpole lighting is permitted for governmental flags only, and provided that the maximum lumen output is 1300 lumens. Flags are encouraged to be taken down at sunset to avoid the need for lighting."

From Aspen, Colorado: "Up-lighting of flags is permitted with a limit of two fixtures per flag pole with a maximum of 150 watts each. The fixtures must be shielded such that the point source is not visible outside of a 15-ft. radius."

The terms used--150 Watts and 1300 lumens need amplification. With the advent of high efficiency lighting the wattage restriction may not be appropriate. The lumen figure seems to avoid obsolescence as more efficient light sources are developed. (For comparison, a GE 60 Watt Soft White incandescent bulb produces 855 lumens.)

Flags displayed at night.

LIGHTED FLAGS The picture shows two flags lighted at night, one with a floodlamp on the ground and a second in the background (and inset) lighted with a focused light mounted on an adjacent street light (smaller inset). Taken on a beautiful, moonlit night just after dusk. Through computer manipulations, the pictures resemble what my eyes saw.Back.

Your authoritative advise or better pictures
are solicited (especially a lighted flag). Your credentials would
be appreciated. Thanks.




Assembled by ovk. Last updated 12/09/2004.
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