United States

Why Flags Fly Half-Staff On Memorial Day. Here's What You Should Know

Flags in Arizona and across the United States were flown at half-staff on Memorial Day to honour military members who died defending the country.

File photo

Monday marked Memorial Day, a solemn occasion for Americans to reflect on and honour the bravery of fallen soldiers. Across the United States, including Arizona, flags flew at half-staff as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by military personnel.

President Joe Biden issued a directive for all flags to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise until noon on Monday, May 27, 2024. This heartfelt gesture was a solemn recognition of those who lost their lives while serving their country.

Following this period of remembrance, flags were raised to full staff, signifying admiration and support for the courageous men and women who continue to defend the principles of liberty and justice that the nation holds dear. Liberty Flags, an organisation dedicated to promoting patriotism, echoed this sentiment, emphasising the importance of honouring both the fallen and the living heroes of the armed forces.

Half-Mast vs Half-Staff: What's The Difference?

A key distinction exists between the terms "half-mast" and "half-staff." While half-mast refers specifically to flags flown on ships, half-staff pertains to flags displayed on land. This differentiation underscores the solemnity and reverence associated with each act of flag-lowering, whether on sea or on land.

Protocol For Flag-Lowering Events

In the United States, there are designated holidays and events during which flags are customarily flown at half-staff. Memorial Day, recognised on the last Monday in May, is among these occasions. The Arizona State website outlines specific protocols for flag-lowering, emphasising the following:

Memorial Day: Flags are displayed at half-staff until noon, symbolising the remembrance of fallen soldiers. After noon, flags are raised to full staff, honouring the ongoing dedication of living military personnel.

Additional Flag-Lowering Days: Peace Officers Memorial Day, Patriot Day, National Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day, and National Firefighters Memorial Day are also recognised with the custom of lowering flags to half-staff.

In addition to established holidays, US presidents have the authority to declare flag-lowering periods in honour of notable individuals or events. Specific guidelines dictate the duration of flag-lowering based on the significance of the occasion. Notably, the death of a president, vice president, chief justice, or member of Congress warrants distinctive protocols for flag display.

Special Rules For Arizona

In Arizona, the governor holds the authority to order the lowering of both the U.S. and state flags in tribute to esteemed government officials or armed forces members. This practice extends to the recognition of incumbent elected state officers, with the state flag lowered for a designated period following their passing.