I actually meant to pen this post a few days ago, because today the Stars and Stripes are flying tall and proud. However a few days ago, that wasn’t the case. How many times in the past year have you driven past a government facility and thought to yourself, “Why is the flag being flown at half staff today?” I don’t exactly read or watch the news (because it’s generally more bullshit than news) so granted, sometimes I’m a day behind hearing about the latest big breaking story. However, for something to be monumental enough for everyone to lower their flags to half staff, I would think it should be one of those events that everyone is aware of, regardless of what rock they live under. It should have to be one of those things that everyone is talking about. You shouldn’t ever look at that flag and have to ask someone, “Why is it flying at half staff today?” If it’s serious enough for our nation to take notice and lower our flags in honor of, remembrance or mourning, then the average person should already know and understand why.
So as I delve deeper into the subject, I find out today that the governor of some states (Indiana included) can issue a statewide order to have US and state flags flown at half staff. So that opens up the door to have even less notable reasons to lower our flags. There are even websites dedicated to answering that question of “Why today?” So why was our flag at half staff last week? Because of some former Indiana governor that died. People die every day. It’s not a national (or state wide) tragedy every time it happens. My Aunt died recently, but there were no flags flown at half staff for her. She was a genuinely awesome person. What makes this former governor better than my Aunt?
Flying the US flag at half staff should be reserved for the truly monumental occasions. Those occasions which deserve the utmost respect, remeberance and thought, such as December 7th and September 11th. It shouldn’t happen because some former Indiana governor who no one has ever heard of dies. (okay, I’m sure someone had heard of him, but I hadn’t) I can even justify it for the early demise of global figures such as Diana, Princess of Wales. While she wasn’t an American, she was a globally known and nationally recognized person, and a figurehead of an ally to the United States. (Besides, the US is technically an ofspring of England, so it’s kinda like sympathizing with the passing of your Great Great Uncle’s best friend.) When she died, no one asked, “Why is the flag at half staff today?” They knew. It was readily apparent, as it should be.
So in a nutshell, if the entire nation doesn’t universally understand why the flag is at half staff, it really shouldn’t be there. Reserve that honor and symbol of respect for the truly deserving occasions, lest we diminish the meaning of a flag flying at half staff to a mere novelty or political favor.