Why flags are at half staff: December 6-9, 2013

by beth on December 6, 2013

Post image for Why flags are at half staff: December 6-9, 2013

Flags in Southborough and across the state are flying at half staff  today, Friday, December 6, through Monday, December 9, 2013.

Today through Monday, the nation is honoring Nelson Mandela.

Death of Nelson Mandela



Today, the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity — Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages.

Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man. His own struggle inspired others to believe in the promise of a better world, and the rightness of reconciliation. (read more)

In addition, Saturday, December 7 is in honor of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day



More than seven decades ago, on a calm Sunday morning, our Nation was attacked without warning or provocation. The bombs that fell on the island of Oahu took almost 2,400 American lives, damaged our Pacific Fleet, challenged our resilience, and tested our resolve. On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the men and women who selflessly sacrificed for our country, and we show our enduring gratitude to all who fought to defend freedom against the forces of tyranny and oppression in the Second World War. (read more)

(photo from Susan Fitzgerald)

1 bw December 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM

He is not a US citizen nor did he fight for the US. No question but DO NOT lower the US flag!

2 bw December 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Sorry meant to say he was a great man and peace keeper. But not for the USA.

3 Parent December 6, 2013 at 6:05 PM

RIP Nelson Mandela. Truly a great person.

4 Susan December 7, 2013 at 5:57 PM

We totally agree with bw….there are many good people out there but our flag should be lowered only for our citizens. We have many great soldiers that give their lives daily for us the citizens of the USA if you must lower our flag lower it for them.

5 heather Frederick December 7, 2013 at 6:16 PM

We need to go back and read when flags go half staff. In the past we would have never flew the flag at half staff for this cause. Why fly the flag from the 6-9 for a man that isn’t even from the US and only fly the flag at half staff for one day for a tragic day in our US history. Yes he may have been a great man but the flags shouldn’t be lowered for him.

6 Parent December 8, 2013 at 9:33 AM

The US is not an entity just unto itself. It works in concert with other countries..Or it should.

7 Mark Fallon December 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

We’ve honored other leaders in the past. From The Christian Science Monitor website:

“President George W. Bush ordered flags to fly at half-staff at the passing of Pope John Paul II in 2005, President Bill Clinton did so for Yitzhak Rabin (1995) and King Hussein of Jordan (1999), and President Ronald Reagan honored Anwar Sadat in 1981, but the historical precedent most often cited is President Lyndon Johnson’s bestowal of the honor in recognition of the passing of Winston Churchill in 1965.”

8 Resident December 9, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Thank you for posting this list Mark. Please note, however that none of those examples are of a black president honoring a black civil rights leader. The ignorance and malice expressed in these comments deeply saddens me. I fear our country is moving backwards instead of forwards where peace and unity are concerned. To find this kind of uninformed negativity in my own small town is heart breaking.

9 Parent December 9, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Resident: I think you hit the nail on the head. This was what I was thinking, but hesitated to say.
I think a lot of the “concerns” about the flag expressed here are really masking a racism that is unfortunately alive and well, not only in this community, but in many others across the US.

10 dp December 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

you got to be kidding

11 Parent December 8, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Here is a link. Note the mention of foreign dignitaries.

The United States Flag:

Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions (April 2008)

Flying the Flag at Half-Staff The Flag Code sets out detailed instructions on flying the flag at half-staff on Memorial Day and as a mark of respect to the memory of certain recently deceased public officials.33 This section embodies the substance of Presidential Proclamation No. 3044,34 entitled “Display of Flag at Half-Staff Upon Death of Certain Officials and Former Officials.”
The section provides that the President shall order the flag flown at half-staff for stipulated periods “upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a state, territory, or possession.” After the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag may be flown at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or in accordance with recognized custom not inconsistent with law. In addition, the Governor of a state, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, may direct that the national flag be flown at half-staff, in the event of the death of a present or former official of the respective government or in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces from that jurisdiction.35 Presidents also have ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff on the death of leading citizens, not covered by law, as a mark of official tribute to their service to the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. is among those who have been so honored.

Again, the provisions of the Flag Code on flying the flag at half-staff are, like all the Code’s provisions, a guide only. They do not apply, as a matter of law, to the display of the flag at half-staff by private individuals and organizations. No federal restrictions or court decisions are known that limit such an individual’s lowering his own flag or that make such display alone a form of desecration.

12 veteran December 9, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Who made or makes those decisions here in our town? I agree, only in cases a a fallen vet or us citizen and that needs to be clarified. There are those who would hang or flag at half for terrorists. ie Parent contribution.

13 beth December 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM

My understanding is the town follows directives by the state (from Governor’s office). The state follows federal directives (from the President). I believe the Governor may also issue statewide proclamations.

14 Mark Fallon December 9, 2013 at 9:28 AM

As Parent points out, a Presidential declaration comes first, then a Governor’s declaration, and then the Town may declare. The Town must follow the President’s and Governor’s declarations.

As a veteran, and the son of a veteran, it meant a great deal to me when my hometown lowered the flag to half-staff. However, I also appreciate when we recognize other great people, regardless of their country. Yitzhak Rabin was deemed a terrorist by the British, and imprisoned during Israel’s fight for independence.

15 Mark Fallon December 9, 2013 at 9:29 AM

I meant to write:

“As a veteran, and the son of a veteran, it meant a great deal to me when my hometown lowered the flag to half-staff for my father’s funeral.”

16 veteran December 9, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I know many, many folks will simply call this guy a redneck or bigot simply because he is from South Carolina, or the south, or the Bible belt, but honestly, he just wants to follow the guidelines for the flag flying.

SC Sheriff Refuses To Honor Mandela Because He Was “Not American”


Mandela was more than a great man, he was just short of a Martyr, I believe the highest form of honor to a Christian who dies for their faith, by choice or situation, in love and devotion to God. I shared this with my children over the weekend.But unless we follow very strict guidelines, it all gets sort of “dumbed down” like giving trophies to kids for every little thing they do. Mandela, an incredible man and what he did for South Africa, but not an American, and the flag should stay at full mast.

17 Bill December 9, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I can’t follow this blog anymore. It makes me so sad to read the constant bickering. Now this. An argument over honoring a great man. It’s a sad day.

18 Resident December 9, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Well-said Bill. I wholeheartedly agree.

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