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Author Topic: Flag Protocol  (Read 8375 times)

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Gator

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Flag Protocol
« on: March 13, 2010, 09:11:00 am »
I have checked the Bylaws, Manual of Procedure, and Rituals and have found nothing on flying the Local Post Flag at half mast  to honor our KIA's. Is there a protocol on this and if not shouldn't there be? Usually the Governor issues an order for State (Arkansas) Flags but shouldn't the VFW Posts in the State that he is interned in show respect also? I understand with the news media being what it is that all Posts may not get notified.

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Offline DoggyDaddy

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2010, 06:21:57 pm »
It is not uncommon for flags of small towns be be at half staff for fallen soldiers who are from their town.  Major cities tend not to because of the questions regarding flags at half staff, and the invitiation of war protestors at city hall. Cities do drop the flag to half staff for firemen and LEOs who fall in duty.  Usually the day or days end at time of burial. To be kept up to date and current on the deaths of soldiers and veterans from their town or being buried, I suggest you join the Patriot Guard Riders to receive e-mail notices or check their website daily  http://www.patriotguard.org/.

To my knowledge, there is no guidance, VFW or other regarding this.  The first amendment protects the right of private citizens with their own private flags on their own private property. IMHO VFW posts can post Old Glory to half staff/mast for members and and fallen soldiers of their town when they wish. If they do, I urge them to do a Press Release as why and who for every time.  Getting the Mayor to do a Proclaimation of Rememberance of the fallen soldier asking all to display their flags would also be nice.
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Offline IJK3770

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2010, 06:56:51 pm »
    If the flagpole it is flying from belongs to your post then it is up to the discretion of your post.  We installed a flagpole on the town square as our first project when we were chartered in 1979 and we fly it at halfmast at our choosing.
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Offline Tom Clark 1117

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2010, 08:27:59 pm »
Flags flown at half-staff can cause uproar if done improperly


NORMAL - In every case, the answer is virtually the same. "We wanted to do something in their honor. We didn't think anyone would complain if we lowered the flag to half staff."

But people do complain.

Unit 5 School Superintendent Gary Niehaus understands that now.

It was Feb. 29 and the district was dealing with the aftermath of an accident that killed a 42-year-old woman who had walked in front of a Unit 5 school bus. The woman died, and Niehaus and his staff tossed around ideas on how to deal with the tragedy and move forward. Lowering the flags at Unit 5 schools, they thought, would be a good way to show respect and compassion for the woman.

While the intention may have been noble, the reaction against lowering the flags was swift. A Downs resident was the first to call, saying the district didn't have the authority to take the action - even for flags on its own property.

"We quickly restored the building flags to full staff," Niehaus said.

But the debate was on.

Who has the authority to order flags to half staff and when?

According to the U.S. Flag Code, only the president and state governors can decide when the flag should be flown at half staff. However, the temptation is there for anyone in charge of a facility with a flagpole on the grounds.

That's the temptation Clinton Mayor Ed Wollet faced in the days following the Nov. 5 death of Clinton Fire Chief Jeff Pearl. Wollet ordered the city's flags be lowered to honor the chief, but it didn't take long for him to meet resistance from local residents.

"I don't believe it was anything against Jeff, but some thought the flag should only be lowered under orders from the president or the governor," Wollet said. "Jeff was an active fire chief and a very popular figure in this town. Everyone knew him, and everyone liked him."

And while Pearl may have served his community well, he was not a former president, current or former vice president, chief justice, speaker of the House of Representatives, associate justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, or the governor of a state, territory or possession. Also, he was not a senator, representative, delegate or the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico. Those are officials for whom the flag can be lowered, according to the flag code.

And Wollet soon learned that he, like Niehaus, didn't have the authority to lower the flag.

"He was a civil servant who died while he held the position of fire chief," Wollet said. "In my mind, certainly, he is someone who deserves an honor such as that."

But officials such as Wollet continue to get an education on what is and what isn't allowed for lowering the flag.

Even Niehaus, who has spent his entire career in education, learned something.

"The reaction was positive for the most part and informative," he said. "I talked with several people who just wanted me to know the flag codes. I learned something about the American flag."

One thing is certain, he said: People have very strong feelings about the flag.

Count Bloomington resident Randy Presswood among them.

"It just kind of hit me wrong," said Presswood, who was among those who objected to Unit 5 lowering the flag for the accident victim. "I talked with the superintendent about it, but by that time, he had received several complaints and had decided against lowering the flag. But there were a bunch of us who felt the same way. Lowering the flag sends an important message."

Clinton veteran Virgil Brady, a member of AMVETS, couldn't agree more.

"As a veteran, the flag stands for something very important to me, because there were so many of us, including myself, who fought for that flag," he said. "There are only two people who have the authority to lower the flag, and that's the way it should be."

"While it's understandable to want to honor someone for serving his community well, you have a major problem in where to draw the line at," he continued. "If you lower it for say, someone who served for 40 years on the fire department, then what about the guy who served 32 years? Or the guy who served 16? Or the guy who served five? It's very difficult to know who should get that honor and who shouldn't, so in my opinion, let the president and the governor decide."
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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2010, 11:36:20 am »
A simple question with a complicated answer. If I understand correctly the VFW is a private organization and as such should be able to do what it feels appropriate within the law. Does flying the Flag at half mast break Flag protocol under the circumstances I origanally asked about and couldn't each Post use it's own discreation about this? A Soldier, Sailor, Marine , or Airman losing his life in the service of our country certainally qualifies for the honor. As far as protesters are concerned space nor forum parameters allow me to state my opinion of them.
Thanks for the answers and the PGR ad. I am a local Ride Captain in the PGR and you are correct on the KIA news as they stay up to date.

Offline Chris Weber 5468

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2010, 12:35:16 pm »
If the 'Minister' from Kansas can do his protests at the Cemeteries during our Honored Veterans services, then we should be free to fly the Flags at Half Staff in Honor of our Fallen.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2010, 02:17:19 pm by Chris Weber 5468 »
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tstruwe

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 11:06:38 am »
Our Governor has asked for the flags in the state to be flown at half staff for every KIA our state has lost.  unfortunately, he also asks that the honors be given to state legislators that have passed away.  My question along the topic of this thread is; has anyone decided not to fly the flag at half staff?

Personnally, I don't feel right flying it at half staff because someone served for 16 years in state government, even if the Governor ask that it be done.

Offline Tom Clark 1117

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2010, 12:36:43 pm »
Sounds to me like a little cognitive dissonance is in play... On one hand, the Flag Code is very specific in when a flag is flown half staff and who has the authority to make that decision (http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm#q58) According to the code, ONLY the President, the Governor of a state, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia can order flags half staff... Period.... And ONLY these select people can decide when the flag is half staff... Period... The VFW By Laws, Manual of Procedure, etc. do NOT supersede the flag code.
Technically, a Governor's proclamation to half staff the flag is to be followed by all in that state who fly the flag (state agency and civilian alike). Although, there are no consequences nor federal/ state agency tasked with enforcing the code.

What anyone does outside of the Flag Code is technicially a violation of the code and maybe even a desecration of the flag. This is where the cognitive dissonance comes into play... The regulations are clearly defined. It's up to you and me to decide if we are going to follow them. For instance, I have a very nice "flag tie" I wear on special days as an act of patriotism. As far as the code is concerned, I am desecrating the flag by wearing it ...

 Tough calls, for sure, and there are many instances of organizations, towns, etc. coming into cinflict with how the flag should be displayed (especially in regard to shows of respect for the fallen).
From an organizational perspective, all it would take is a disgruntled civilian and a camera snapping a shot of a half-mast flag outside of a VFW Hall to really stir up poo poo if the hall decided on its own to honor a fallen comrade with a half staff showing. Our local hometown paper, known to be just a fraction of a millimeter above the National Enquirer in its journalistic "integrity" would have a field day with that. The headlines would read something like "Local VFW Post Doesn't Know the Code" or some such nonsense. I'm not tryin' to be a jerk, just stating the facts as they are written. Respects, Tom
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 02:54:08 pm by Tom Clark 1117 »
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Offline d.peirce

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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2010, 05:06:59 pm »
I am a stockholder in the Boston Flower Exchange. The Exchange was incorporated in 1909. by men, many of whom had served in either the Civil War or Spanish American War. When a new building was built in 1972 the grandsons & great grandsons erected an outside Flag pole.
They also created the policy, that when a stockholder had passed a flag would be displayed.
 They ruled that,  the Boardroom windows (overlooking the floor of the Exchange, a  Flag would be displayed until the services for the deceased stockholder had been completed.

 National Flag code rules applied to the Outside pole.  Board of Directors determined flag rules inside the building.

It never solved the feelings of the bereaved but was admittedly understandable in law.

 It made sense as the only purpose of a large flag covering all windows on one side of the only structure of an internal second floor was known to anyone allowed access to the building.
For what it's worth ~

 
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Re: Flag Protocol
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 09:45:34 am »
Thanks for the Flag Protocol, however if I read and understood correctly, the Presidents, Governors or D.C. Mayor's proclamation applies to Flags at Federal or State Establishments. A VFW Post  doesn't fall under this rule. It may seem that I am trying to be a little hard headed here but I am just trying to do what I feel is right. I am not worried about what anyone or their local newspaper thinks of it.  However I do hate to ask a question then argue with the answer. I appreciate all the opinions here and that is one of the things that makes this a great country. We can say it without fear of being shot, at least for now.
Thanks again
Gator