Christopher Armstead, Americanism Officer at American Legion Post 36, has compiled this list of days of when American flags are required to be flown at half-staff during the year. He has included explanations on each day and some history behind the laws.
Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15 (sunrise until sunset)
Public Law 87-726: Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week is an observance in the United States that pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. It is celebrated May 15 of each year. The event is sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and is implemented by the FOP Memorial Committee.
Memorial Day, the last Monday in May (sunrise until noon)
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971
Patriot Day, Sept. 11 (sunrise until sunset)
What is Patriot’s Day? Patriot’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday of April among select states. It commemorates the start of the American Revolution, particularly the battles of Lexington and Concord that were fought near Boston in 1775. Although not a federal holiday, this day is observed as a state holiday in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin. Many people in these states get to have a day off of school and work to celebrate their annual events and traditions. Common traditions include the reenactment of the battles of Lexington and Concord and the Boston Marathon.
This day is not to be confused with Patriot Day which falls on Sept. 11, a day that marks the anniversary of terrorist attacks that occurred at the World Trade Center in 2001.
What is Patriot Day? Patriot Day is observed annually on Sept. 11 and is also a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Sept. 11, 2021, was the 20th anniversary of the tragic events that occurred at the World Trade Center in 2001. Although it is also not a federal holiday, Patriot Day is observed throughout many states with memorials and ceremonies. Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. (EDT) which is the time the first plane hit the North Tower of the WTC. Patriot Day is also a flag flying holiday; flags should be displayed at half-staff from sunrise to sundown in honor of the lives that were lost on this day. Americans across the country are called to come together and volunteer to their local communities in tribute to the first responders and individuals lost in the attacks.
Korean War Veterans Armistice Day July 27th (sunrise until sunset)
*Recognized annually by POTUS Proclamation, however I am trying to verify half-mast status. The original proclamation states half-staff through 07/27/2003 only (50-year mark). More to follow on this as soon as I get information from a higher source.
National Firefighters Memorial Day (sunrise until sunset)
National Firefighters Memorial Day is traditionally the first Sunday in October per Public Law 107-51. On Oct. 16, 2001, President George W. Bush approved legislation requiring the American flag to be lowered to half-staff on all Federal buildings to memorialize fallen firefighters. Public Law 107-51 requires this action to occur annually in conjunction with observance of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.
Remember to lower the American flags at your home, fire department and business. Encourage your local community to follow the Federal Government’s example. When you lower your flag this year, you will recognize the brave men and women who died protecting their communities from natural and man-made emergencies and disasters and those who carry on the proud tradition.
You may also want to ask your state and local officials to include lowering the flag in a proclamation recognizing the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Dec. 7 (sunrise to sunset)
Each year on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Survivors, veterans, and visitors from all over the world come together to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft.
On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
National League of Families POW/MIA flag
Six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families POW/MIA flag:
1. National POW/MIA Recognition Day (held the 3rd Friday in September)
2. Armed Forces Day
3. Memorial Day
4. Flag Day
5. Independence Day
6. Veterans Day
“POW/MIA flag to fly at federal sites year-round– Nov. 8, 2019”
Prominent federal buildings and national war memorials will now fly the iconic POW/MIA flag alongside the American flag throughout the year thanks to legislation signed into law.
The proposal, passed without objection in the House and the Senate, it is designed to help highlight the continued sacrifice of military families whose loved ones are still unaccounted for overseas, estimated at about 82,000 individuals.
Advocates began pushing for the year-long display of the flag earlier this year after some lawmakers in Washington, D.C. stopped displaying the black and white “you are not forgotten” banner outside their congressional offices.
The law applies only to a specific set of federal buildings, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters. Every post office throughout the country will also be required to fly the POW/MIA flag.
In addition, display of the flag will be required at every major U.S. military installation, every national cemetery, and numerous high-profile war-related sites like the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families are forever honored and never forgotten.
Information from Halfstaff.org, Stars and Stripes, and Whitehouse.gov