- Explanation of Half-Masting
- History of the practice
- Reasons for Half-Masting in Kansas
- How to Half-Mast a Flag
Flags are at half mast in Kansas due to the passing of former President George H.W. Bush.
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Explanation of Half-Masting
The flag is half-masted as a sign of respect or mourning. The tradition is said to have started in the 17th century, and it is still practiced today. When the flag is at half-mast, it is flown halfway up the flagpole.
What is the significance of half-masting a flag?
The custom of lowering the flag to half-staff began in the 17th century as a sign of respect or mourning. Originally, flags were only lowered for the death of a reigning monarch or member of the royal family, but the practice was later extended to include the death of high-ranking government officials and military officers.
In modern times, flags are often lowered as a mark of respect after the death of a prominent figure, such as a head of state, senator, congressman, governor or mayor. Flags may also be lowered after national tragedies or following the death of a well-known public figure, such as an artist, athlete or musician.
History of the practice
The tradition of half-masting the flag began in the 17th century with English and Dutch shipping. By the 18th century, other nations had adopted the practice. In the United States, federal regulations now dictate when and how the flag should be flown at half-staff.
When did the practice originate?
The practice of flying the flag at half-mast began in England in the early 1600s. At that time, it was customary to fly a flag at full-mast when a ship was leaving port and then to lower it to half-mast when the ship was out of sight. This practice was adopted by the English navy and then by other navies around the world.
In recent history, the most common reason for flying the flag at half-mast has been to mark the death of a prominent person, such as a head of state or a national leader. flags are also flown at half-mast on Memorial Day and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
How has the practice changed over time?
The practice of flying the flag at half-staff has changed over time.
According to an article from the United States Flag Foundation, in the early days of our country, it was common for flags to be flown at half-staff as a sign of mourning. However, this practice was not always observed in a uniform manner.
The foundation says that it wasn’t until the 1861 death of President Abraham Lincoln that the United States government began to codify the practice. After Lincoln’s assassination, an act of Congress was passed that established certain protocols for flying the flag at half-staff.
Over time, these regulations have evolved. For example, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order that amended the original law to allow for the flag to be flown at half-staff for any member of the Armed Forces who dies in service to our country.
More recently, in 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that further expanded the circumstances under which the flag may be flown at half-staff. Under this order, flags are to be lowered to half-staff “upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and world leaders.”
So, while the practice of flying flags at half-staff has changed over time, it remains an important way for us to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country.
Reasons for Half-Masting in Kansas
There are certain protocols for half-masting the American flag. In Kansas, the flags are at half mast today, March 13th, 2020. The reason for this is to mourn the passing of Kansas State Representative Joe Aull.
On Memorial Day, we remember those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Federal law (4 U.S. Code ß 7) designates Memorial Day as a day of half-mast observance on all government buildings and grounds, including public ships and vessels.
In Kansas, flags are flown at half-staff from sunrise to noon on Memorial Day.
Funerals- A flag at half-staff is a sign of respect, mourning and remembrance. It is often flown at public buildings, monuments and homes after the death of a public figure, such as a president or prominent member of the military, or after a mass shooting. The flag is typically lowered to half-staff (or half-mast on ships) from the time of the person’s death until their funeral.
While Flags are most often flown at Half-Staff to mark the death of a notable figure, there are a number of other occasions where it is appropriate to fly them at Half-Mast.
Per the United States Flag Code, “When the national flag is flown at half-staff, it should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position.”
The following are some of the occasions where it is appropriate to fly the Flags at Half-Mast, as outlined in the Flag Code:
-on Memorial Day, until noon only
-on Patriot Day
-on Peace Officers Memorial Day
-on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
How to Half-Mast a Flag
Flags are most often flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. Usually, this is done after the death of a high-ranking public official or dignitary, such as a head of state, governor, or member of Congress. The practice of flying flags at half-mast can be traced back to ancient Rome.
The proper way to lower a flag to half-mast
When a flag is to be flown at half-mast, it should be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By “half-staff” or “half-mast” is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.
Ceremonies for Half-Masting the Flag
The United States Flag Code (4 U.S.C. 8(i)) contains no penalty provisions; therefore, enforcement rests with custom and usage. According to custom and usage, when flown at half-staff, flags are usually first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. They are again raised to the peak before being lowered for nightfall or inclement weather, whichever occurs first.
Flags may be ordered to fly at half-staff by:
The President of the United States, in remembrance of designated politicians or government officials (4 U.S.C. 8(m))
A Governor of a state, territory, possession or commonwealth, in memory of a deceased official of that jurisdiction (36 U.S.C 175)
The Mayor of a city, town or county in memory of designated officials
The proper way to raise a flag to half-mast
When lowering the flag to half-staff, hoist it briskly to the peak for an instant and then lower it solemnly to half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the peak of the staff. By “half-staff” is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. Crease it in folds until only a triangular portion of blue field and star(s) is visible in space at eye level.