Half-Mast, Special Flag Days, and Continuous Display of the U.S. Flag

The Flag of the United States can be found flying on the sites of government buildings and also outside residential homes. In general, the U.S. flag is raised quickly at sunrise and lowered ceremoniously at sunset. There are of course, exceptions to this rule: residences and public places, for example, can display the flag during darkness if the flag is properly illuminated. There are also certain days throughout the year that are special flag flying days or when the flag should be flown at half mast.

To achieve a patriotic effect, there are some government buildings that display the flag continuously. These are:

  • The Washington Monument (Washington, D.C.)
  • The White House (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States Marine Corp Memorial (Arlington, VA)
  • Flag House Square (Baltimore, MD)
  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Baltimore, MD)
  • On the Green (Lexington, MA)
  • The National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge State Park (Valley Forge, PA)
  • At United States Customs Ports of Entry

There are also special flag flying days, or days of celebration when United States citizens are encouraged to display their flags at full mast. These days include:

  • President’s Day (the third Monday in February)
  • United States Flag Day (June 14), celebrating the adoption of U.S. flag in 1777
  • Veteran’s Day (November 11), a celebratory day to honor our veterans

There are other days when the flag should be flown at half mast. In general, flags should be flown at half mast from sunrise to sunset. The exception to this rule is Memorial Day, when the flag is flown at half mast until noon, and then raised to full mast until sunset. Half mast days include:

  • Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15)
  • Memorial Day (the last Monday in May)
  • Patriot Day (September 11)
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)

The President of the United States or a United States governor has the power to declare the United States flag to be flown at half mast. To honor the death of a state or national figure, the flag is flown at half mast for the following durations:

  • Thirty days following the death of the President or former president
  • Ten days following the death of the Vice President, Chief Justice, retired Chief Justice or Speaker of the House.
  • The time between the death and burial of a former Vice President, Associate Supreme Court Justice, military secretary, and a state governor.
  • The day of and day after the death of a congressperson.

If a community deems appropriate, the U.S. flag can also be flown at half mast to honor the death of important local government, religious, social, or youth leaders, teachers and coaches, or other community figures.

To get the most current updates about when the flag should be flown at half mast, visit http://www.halfstaff.org.

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