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So apparently some people are a bit concerned (angry? curious?) about Overlook Park not lowering the flag to half-staff in honor of the three Mercy Flight heroes who perished last week. Actually, I’m OK with the decision not to lower the flag, and it has nothing to do with the Mercy Flight crew. Believe me, I have nothing but the utmost respect for them, and remain haunted by their tragic deaths. It just seems that we do an awful lot of half-mast tributes lately, to the point that it appears to become somewhat less meaningful…or maybe it’s just me.
To be honest, I was a bit surprised that flags were at half-mast for an entire month following the death of President Ford. I understand that if it’s done for one President, it must be done for all – protocol exists to be followed precisely, after all…but maybe we ought to consider a person’s time in office. For instance, two full terms would garner a President a full month of half-staff honors; a one-termer would get two weeks; elected members of Congress might get a week; and so on.
But lowering all of the flags for each passing that affects the community just isn’t feasible; the flags would be permanently at half-staff. After all, what criteria are we going to use? If we lowered flags for the Mercy Flight crew, what about – for instance – an off-duty paramedic who dies in an accident while saving someone else? Or a nurse who – for instance – died as a result of driving under the influence? And what about the non-“hero” citizens who die? Should Miss Ellie Mae, who dies of natural causes at the age of 92, but was an honorable community servant decades ago, also get the half-staff treatment? If not – why?
I don’t know. I appreciate that many people want to pay respect to those who have passed, but lowering the flag might not be the most appropriate way to do so.
Any other ideas on how we could honor non-former-Presidents in a respectful way, without involving every person that flies a flag?



  1. I can understand where your coming from but the fact that the Mercy flight crew Died while on duty is a contributing factor… If you look at other cities that have lost a fire fighter or key member the order is given to drop the flags half mast. And most of the presidents that have died that I can remember have had the flags at half mast for about a month. It’s a sign of honor for those who have Fallen in the service of the Greater Good. My view is for the Military men and women who have Fallen for this Great Country should also have the flag dropped half mast in their respective communities.

  2. I requested that Governor Schweitzer allow us (City and County) to lower our flags. He did, but apparently that applies only to City and County flags. It would require a Presidential proclamation to lower ALL flags.

  3. David, too many half-staff tributes? Or too many tragic deaths (and those of former dignitaries, such as President Ford)in a short time?

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