Flags flying low

America’s representation of loss has become meaningless


Photo courtesy of Olivia Ray

Millard West’s flags were at half-staff on Dec. 7 in memory of the lives lost at Pearl Harbor. Many times students will see the flag at half-staff and not question it. Students will continue to stay uninformed if flags flying at half-staff is normal to them.

Olivia Ray, Staff Reporter

Everyone learned that the stars on the flag represent each state when they were young, but many were not informed about the important reason our flags are placed at half-staff. The United States puts the flag at half staff as a way to represent the country’s mourning. However, this placement has become too common to hold any value. 

Although it is never a good thing to live in a state of sadness, it is better than looking past the importance of remembering events. Dec. 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, so flags are at half-staff. According to AS News, 2,403 people died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. This is clearly an important event that should be recognized by citizens, but because our flags are at half-staff so frequently, few people have recognized this event. 

From January to April this year, American flags were placed at half-staff every one in four days. This defeats the value and meaning of having our flags raised. There are only five specific dates that the flag needs to be at half-staff, and that is when a president or someone in law enforcement has passed. Unfortunately, there will always be a few occasions of deep tragedy in the U.S. where we are mourning unexpected events and flags need to be lowered, but this should not be a weekly event. 

The importance of having the flag lowered is lost when people are not truly mourning a tragedy in our country because it was small. The flag being at half-staff should not be a casual thing you drive past and wonder why it’s at like that, but a sign of great loss for our country. No minor problem in our country should be looked past, but if our country focuses on small setbacks large disasters slide by as unimportant to citizens. 

If the flag is consistently at half-staff Americans will constantly live in fear. Our country cannot prosper if all Americans are focused on the minor negative things that happen. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that our flag should be honored as much as possible. Our flag should be a positive symbol almost every day. 

Our flag’s regular low placement has a large impact on teens being informed. Every public school has an American flag and a state flag outside the school. When students walk in, they will not be surprised when they see the flag placed in the middle of the pole. Students have learned this to be normal and to not ask questions about what the flag being placed at half-staff even means or what its value is on that day.

U.S.History states that the president or the governor of your state can decide to put flags at half-staff or down. Although the politics of our flag are regularly looked past, there is controversy of when flags should and should not stay up. The Washington Post reported that President Biden kept the flags up on Peace Officers Memorial Day because the date collided with Armed Forces Day. Both of these dates are uncommonly recognized, but Biden decided to stick to the flag code and keep the flags raised and honor our troops. 

The flag code needs to be enforced by U.S. citizens and we need to recognize the deeper meaning behind our flags being at half-staff. The representation of a nation mourning has been lost by the countless times our flag has been placed at half staff for a minute reason.