Why are flags at half-mast today? | The Sun

THE American flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty and the sight of it being flown at half-mast often symbolises that a notable death or tragic event has occurred.

Only the President and state governors can order that flags be flown at half-mast, sometimes known as half-staff, and the event normally indicates that the nation – or a state – is in mourning.

Why are flags at half-mast today?

On October 30, 2023, flags were being flown at half-mast in tribute to the victims of the shooting in Lewiston, Maine that took place on October 25.

18 died and a further 13 were injured after a gunman stormed a bowling alley wielding an AR-15-style rifle.

The body of suspect Robert Card was later found in a trailer at his workplace.

A statement from President Joe Biden on the White House website read: "As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on October 25, 2023, in Lewiston, Maine, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, October 30, 2023.  

"I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations".

When have flags been flown half-mast before?

Back in August 2023, flags at the White House were flown at half-mast in honor of Indiana Representative, Jackie Walorski and another other three victims that were involved in a car crash.

Previously, in July 2022, President Joe Biden ordered US flags to be flown at half-mast out of respect for former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

Flags at all public buildings, military grounds, and US facilities abroad were to be lowered in honor of Abe, who was assassinated in Nara, Japan.

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Also in July 2022, flags were flown at half-mast after the Highland Park, Illinois, shooting at an Independence Day parade.

The White House said at the time that the order came "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of gun violence perpetrated on our Independence Day".

Customary dates for flags to be flown at half-mast include Patriot Day and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Were flags flown for Covid-19 pandemic victims?

Biden has, in the past, flown flags at half-mast in honor of those who lost their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said in May 2022: "Today, we mark a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to Covid-19. One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss

"Jill and I pray for each of them".

He continued: "As a Nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember.

"We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible."

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