Ask Liz: American Flags at Half-Staff

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Who decides when the American flag should be flown at half-staff? The Department of Veterans Affairs says:

  • The American flag is flown at half-staff when the whole nation is considered to be in “mourning”.
  • The President, state governors, and heads of federal agencies decide when a flag should be flown at half-staff.
  • The flag ALWAYS flies at half-staff for thirty days after the death of a current or former President.
  • Likewise, it always flies at half-staff for ten days after the death of a current vice President, chief justice, or speaker of the House.
  • The President may also order it be flown at half-staff to mark a national tragedy… such as the Virginia Tech massacre or for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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