Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Did the American Legion Join CNN in Fact-Free World? Time for a Change in Flag Half-Staff Policy.

 

On Monday, August 27, CNN was constantly running a chyron claiming the American Legion “scolded” President Trump into issuing a proclamation to re-lower the flags. But, what are the rules? Would President Trump break the flag etiquette rules out of personal animus? If facts matter to you, the answer is readily at hand.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a helpful PDF publication on half-staffing: “Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff.” It informs us:

In the early days of our country, no regulations existed for flying the flag at half-staff and, as a result, there were many conflicting policies. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the proper times.

Let’s look at that proclamation. It is Proclamation 3044–Display of the flag of the United States of America at half-staff upon the death of certain officials and former officials. Note that there are clear distinctions among levels of officials whose passing is being marked, and that these distinctions were set in 1954 by the president who led the Allies to victory in Europe.

WHEREAS it is desirable that rules be prescribed for the uniform observance of this mark of respect by all executive departments and agencies of the Government, and as a guide to the people of the Nation generally on such occasions:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, do hereby prescribe and proclaim the following rules with respect to the display of the flag of the United States of America at half-staff upon the death of the officials hereinafter designated:

1. The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions for the period indicated upon the death of any of the following-designated officials or former officials of the United States:
(a) The President or a former President: for thirty days from the day of death. The flag shall also be flown at half-staff for such period at all United States embassies, legations, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
(b) The Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives: for ten days from the day of death.
(c) An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, or the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives: from the day of death until interment.

[Sec. 1 amended by Proc. 3948 of Dec. 12, 1969, 34 FR 19699, 3 CFR, 1966-1970 Comp., p. 446]

2. The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States Senator, Representative, Territorial Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and it shall also be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the State, Congressional District, Territory, or Commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, respectively, from the day of death until interment.

So, the senior Senator from Arizona was to be recognized at every federal facility throughout the world from Saturday evening, the 25th of August, through Sunday evening, the 26th of August. All federal facilities in Arizona were to honor Senator McCain by flying the American flag at half-staff through next Saturday, at least.

His funeral will be at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and he will be buried at the cemetery there. The date of the private ceremony has not been publicly released.

Senator McCain chose Annapolis over Arlington because a dear friend is buried there.

So why did the President break protocol and order this particular federal official be honored above those of similar rank? To make the pain go away, rather than explaining the rules that apply to every other official of the same protocol rank. Exit question: may Congressman Sam Johnson enjoy a long life after his planned retirement from Congress, at the end of this term, but, should he pass before then, does anyone seriously believe that the same cast of characters will demand the same honors now being accorded Senator McCain?

The question answers itself, and yet . . . perhaps it is time for the President to update a policy last updated in 1969. President Trump could leverage the occasion to violently agree that American Ex-Prisoners of War deserve more national recognition. Just consider the stories of Admiral Stockdale, Congressman Johnson, and the other nine POWs moved from the Hanoi Hilton to the even greater isolation of “Alcatraz.” The President might also note that there are 72 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, and that these patriots’ passing is at least as worthy of national recognition as the current officials who receive day of and day after death half-staff honors. So, publish a Presidential Proclamation amending PP 3044 with a new paragraph:

American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients are deserving of national recognition. Accordingly, their deaths shall be observed as follows:

  1. Those persons eligible for recognition under paragraph 2 of PP 3044, who are also either American Ex-Prisoners of War or Medal of Honor recipients, shall receive the honors prescribed under paragraph 1(c) of PP 3044.
  2. The death of all other Medal of Honor recipients shall be honored by flying the flag of the United States at half-staff by the same rule as prescribed in paragraph 2 of PP 3044.
  3. The Department of Veterans Affairs shall track the deaths of all American Ex-Prisoners of War quarterly. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall report the number and names on the first day of the following quarter, to the President. The President shall issue a proclamation the first Wednesday of each quarter, honoring their sacrifice. On the first Friday after the President issues a proclamation under this paragraph, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. Richard Easton Member

    Unfortunately, Trump will be criticized by certain people no matter what he does. We’ve entered a fact free world where Trump follows protocol, and is accused by petty people of not following the norms.

    • #1
    • August 27, 2018, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Once again the people protest when they have no idea what they’re talking about. It sounds like it’s possible that the Left and Right made a fuss. So much for the rules.

    • #2
    • August 27, 2018, at 4:45 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are PreciousJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Play Stormy For Me.”

    • #3
    • August 27, 2018, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Guruforhire Member

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

     

    • #4
    • August 27, 2018, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  5. Richard Easton Member

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Obama made the important decisions of lighting up the WH in purple after Prince’s death and rainbow colors after our SC rulers decided what marriage will be until the penumbras change again.

    • #5
    • August 27, 2018, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    Go Ahead Redact My Day (View Comment):

    “Play Stormy For Me.”

    OK, I’m going to rationalize a brief hijack here–I love that movie because: 1) Clint 2) In days of old being a night jazz DJ was the bomb, and 3) the California of old shown by his incredible drive to work at the beginning. Heading for my Blu-Ray copy now.

    • #6
    • August 27, 2018, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Per the terms of the governing document, no one needed to make a decision. The whole point was to end ad hoc and inequitable decisions, replacing them with a clear set of rules. The Department of the Interior is not in the decision loop at all. A presidential proclamation is only needed for those who do not clearly fall under the rules. From Presidential Proclamation 3044:

    4. In the event of the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries, the flag of the United States shall be displayed at half-staff in accordance with such orders or instructions as may be issued by or at the direction of the President, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

    Oh, since Congress and the Supreme Court are co-equal with the Executive, they are perfectly entitled to set their own rules for honoring their own members. That is, it would make perfect sense for the flag over the U.S. Capitol Building to be at half-staff for longer than Executive branch buildings, including the White House, as Congress chose to reflect a period of mourning internally.

    • #7
    • August 27, 2018, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Jack Shepherd Coolidge

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Obama made the important decisions of lighting up the WH in purple after Prince’s death and rainbow colors after our SC rulers decided what marriage will be until the penumbras change again.

    I think it goes without saying that the big 0 is a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    • #8
    • August 27, 2018, at 6:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. ST Inactive

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Yep. Most likely someone would simply inform the President of this in a quick bullet along with the rest of their update at a staff meeting.

    • #9
    • August 27, 2018, at 6:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Jack Shepherd Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown: CNN is running a chyron

    By the way…

    Jargon alert!!!!!!

    • #10
    • August 27, 2018, at 6:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: CNN is running a chyron

    By the way…

    Jargon alert!!!!!!

    What do you think the standard term would be? It appears the term became a lower case noun despite the original trademark.

     

    • #11
    • August 27, 2018, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Trump broke flag code. Being from Russia how was he to know? Maybe we should have a inquisitor investigate so they can find out if anybody that got close to Trump has a process crime in their past. Or maybe we should just impeach Trump for being a cad.

    • #12
    • August 27, 2018, at 7:56 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Yep. Most likely someone would simply inform the President of this in a quick bullet along with the rest of their update at a staff meeting.

    That is how most business and administrations would be ran but we know by the media and all their unconfirmed secret sources that Trump stalks around the White House by himself plotting revenge on his enemies while fearing mutiny

     

    • #13
    • August 27, 2018, at 8:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. MarciN Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Exit question: may Congressman Sam Johnson enjoy a long life after his planned retirement from Congress, at the end of this term, but, should he pass before then, does anyone seriously believe that the same cast of characters will demand the same honors now being accorded Senator McCain?

    I’d be willing to bet none of them will notice, let alone complain. 

    This was a very interesting post. Thank you. 

    • #14
    • August 27, 2018, at 11:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I have edited this post by adding a paragraph suggesting that this might be a good occasion to revise current guidance, to add honors for American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients. Take the ad hoc change for Senator McCain and make it part of the new rule.

    • #15
    • August 28, 2018, at 12:21 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. JosePluma Thatcher

    It reminds me over the agrle-bargle when princess fluffhead Diana was killed by a drunk. People complained that the flags at Buckingham Palace were not at half-staff, though they had no idea what the flags were for. 

    • #16
    • August 28, 2018, at 12:52 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Randy Webster Member

    If you make enough people eligible for half-staff honors, you might as well fly the flag at half-staff permanently.

    • #17
    • August 28, 2018, at 2:53 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    I have edited this post by adding a paragraph suggesting that this might be a good occasion to revise current guidance, to add honors for American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients. Take the ad hoc change for Senator McCain and make it part of the new rule.

    No, because then you’d have to do it for John Kerry.

     

    • #18
    • August 28, 2018, at 4:43 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. The Reticulator Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    If you make enough people eligible for half-staff honors, you might as well fly the flag at half-staff permanently.

    I’m no flag waver and didn’t even fly the flag after 9/11. But it bothers me that some people like to see our flag at half staff so much. I suspect that some people see it as second best to flying the white flag.

    I never served in the military and am not likely to go out in some act of heroism in defense of our country. It’s already too late for me to stop nationalized health care. But if I did go down fighting, I’d want our flag to keep flying high. Half-staff looks too much like defeat. 

    But other people look at the symbolism differently, and have more of a claim than I to decide how it should be interpreted.

    • #19
    • August 28, 2018, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Old Buckeye Member

    And yet some of those doing the grousing would probably help with a flag burning and see nothing wrong with kneeling for the national anthem.

    • #20
    • August 28, 2018, at 7:08 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Jack Shepherd Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: CNN is running a chyron

    By the way…

    Jargon alert!!!!!!

    What do you think the standard term would be? It appears the term became a lower case noun despite the original trademark.

     

    A crawl. That’s what I always heard in the 70s and 80s.

    • #21
    • August 28, 2018, at 7:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. danok1 Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    I have edited this post by adding a paragraph suggesting that this might be a good occasion to revise current guidance, to add honors for American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients. Take the ad hoc change for Senator McCain and make it part of the new rule.

    No, because then you’d have to do it for John Kerry.

    Kerry was a POW? He received the MOH?

    ETA: I think you mean Bob Kerrey, U.S. Senator from Nebraska who received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

    • #22
    • August 28, 2018, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    I have edited this post by adding a paragraph suggesting that this might be a good occasion to revise current guidance, to add honors for American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients. Take the ad hoc change for Senator McCain and make it part of the new rule.

    No, because then you’d have to do it for John Kerry.

    Kerry was a POW? He received the MOH?

    ETA: I think you mean Bob Kerrey, U.S. Senator from Nebraska who received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

    You are correct, I confused the Kerrys.

    And I guess we still have to do the flag thing for John Kerry because he was a Senator. Dang it.

     

    • #23
    • August 28, 2018, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I see flags at half-mast too often. Essentially, it represents mourning of a national tragedy. The dying of a Senator is not equivalent to a Pearl Harbor or 9-11; nor is some random shooting that happens every year. One should not expect to see the flag at half-mast even once per year. 

    That proclamation by President Eisenhower makes it more a tribute to lifelong politicians. To heck with that. 

    • #24
    • August 28, 2018, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  25. Gary Robbins Reagan

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Obama made the important decisions of lighting up the WH in purple after Prince’s death and rainbow colors after our SC rulers decided what marriage will be until the penumbras change again.

    I think it goes without saying that the big 0 is a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    While Trump might have been justified technically in refusing to lower the flag, he was amazingly tone-deaf.

    To paraphrase the above comment, Trump was a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    • #25
    • August 28, 2018, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  26. Jager Coolidge
    JagerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Obama made the important decisions of lighting up the WH in purple after Prince’s death and rainbow colors after our SC rulers decided what marriage will be until the penumbras change again.

    I think it goes without saying that the big 0 is a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    While Trump might have been justified technically in refusing to lower the flag, he was amazingly tone-deaf.

    To paraphrase the above comment, Trump was a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    What you are saying only makes any sense whatsoever if you can show that Trump personally ordered a change in the Flag, the same way Obama is said to have personally ordered the lighting of the White House.

    Otherwise your argument is that Trump is classless, ect. because a low level functionary followed the rules. In that case, if anything, Trump showed class by bending the rule to honor McCain.

    Trump doesn’t follow the rules or norms and he is an idiot or wildcard or Authoritarian. Trump follows the rules he is a classless twerp. Nice catch 22 you set up there so that Trump is always wrong, even if he had nothing to do with the “wrong”

    • #26
    • August 28, 2018, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    I have edited this post by adding a paragraph suggesting that this might be a good occasion to revise current guidance, to add honors for American Ex-Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients. Take the ad hoc change for Senator McCain and make it part of the new rule.

    No, because then you’d have to do it for John Kerry.

    John Kerry is not a Senator. He is a former Senator. Only those who held specific senior leadership positions are entitled to honors after serving. Perhaps this is a small factor in Senators clinging to office through failing health. The word “former” is used deliberately and selectively in the Eisenhower presidential proclamation.

    • #27
    • August 28, 2018, at 10:10 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. EHerring Coolidge

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    I never once thought that the president himself would be making the decision on this. This seems like some assistant deputy undersecretary of the interior for protocol and ceremony would be making these decisions.

    Obama made the important decisions of lighting up the WH in purple after Prince’s death and rainbow colors after our SC rulers decided what marriage will be until the penumbras change again.

    I think it goes without saying that the big 0 is a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    While Trump might have been justified technically in refusing to lower the flag, he was amazingly tone-deaf.

    To paraphrase the above comment, Trump was a classless, aggrandizing, publicity-seeking twerp.

    He didn’t refuse to lower it. I heard it was lowered the two days per established protocol. They are upset he followed protocol rather than issue an edict letting it stay up longer.

    • #28
    • August 28, 2018, at 10:24 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. EHerring Coolidge

    This is protocol madness. We honor Congressmen, but, as free people, shouldn’t worship and exalt the powerful. It is ok with me to lower the flag to half staff longer, not because he was a politician, but because he was a war hero. Besides, it gives the Dems a couple more days to finally get around to recognizing his wartime heroics. By raising the flag after the normal 2 days, the White House also hoisted the deranged Democrats & Never Trumpers on their own petard.

    • #29
    • August 28, 2018, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Stad Thatcher

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Unfortunately, Trump will be criticized by certain people no matter what he does. We’ve entered a fact free world where Trump follows protocol, and is accused by petty people of not following the norms.

    The never-Trumpers need to refuel their tanks every once in a while, so they’ll seize every opportunity to make a post critizing our duly elected President, non-interfered with by Russians (according to Rosenstein himself) . . .

    • #30
    • August 28, 2018, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 3 likes

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