The US Flag: Display Half Staff at Home

Do you fly a United States Flag at your home? Have you wondered how to properly fly your American flag at half staff when appropriate? You aren’t alone. Apparently, people have been searching for this information for the last 10+ years online… So let’s take a look at how this should be done.

US flag on pole at half mast alongside residential mounted flag with black mourning streamer

First off, it’s important to note that American flags on display at residential locations are not required to be lowered to half staff, even when the US President or a state Governor issues a proclamation to lower the US flag. In fact, it is not even expected. The proclamations apply to government properties, state offices, and other public facilities. But if you have a flag pole at home, you are welcome to lower your flag as well.

If you have a vertical flag pole with a pulley system, you would follow the same standard procedures (raising to the top quickly, then lowering to the correct position ceremoniously). But what about flags that have a fixed position on the pole? There are a couple of options, actually.

flag pole mount with 2 angles

If your flag mount has 2 angles (such as the one seen here, left), as long as the flag won’t touch the ground, you can use the lower mount bracket. In this case, instead of being pointed straight up, the flag will come out approximately parallel to the ground. This method is not as common, but still recognized.

For those unable to change the angle of the flagpole, another option, particularly during a time of mourning, is to tie a black streamer or bow to the top of the flag. In this case, the streamer should be about the same width as a single stripe on the flag, and at least as long as the flag. It should be be attached right below the spearhead so that it flies freely above the flag itself.

banner-style American flag flying at half-staff house-mounted US flag with black streamer for mourning house mounted US flag with black bow for mourning

While there are no explicit rules defining the black streamer as proper etiquette, it was originally brought to the public by The American Legion, and has become a widely accepted manner for expressing mourning while displaying the US Flag on private property. There are a number of sources online that mention or describe this method, including the top-voted answer on this StackExchange question and this “Honor The Flag” guide from Event Resources. You may also consider following up with a search of your own – “us flag black streamer” will turn up a lot of stores that sell them, most of which will also explain their purpose in the product listing.

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  1. Thank you for your information ❤️🙏

  2. Thank you so much for showing what I should do to honor our fallen Afghan soldiers…. Should pass it on to others…

  3. Is it ok for a public school to fly flag at half mast even if the stupid governor won’t issue the order. Like now for instance the 13 men who paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan for our freedom?

    1. Sure, I would just suggest that the highest authority at the school put in writing why it is being done, in case anyone wants to question it.

  4. Marianne Brosky

    If I place an American flag at the entrance of our city, on a stationary pole, do we have to lower to 1/2 mast. We have no lanyards.
    Thank you

    1. In accordance with the Flag Code section 7(m):
      “… the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation.”

      So if the flag is *not* installed at a Federal facility (which includes most city, county and state government campuses), it is not necessary to lower it. If the “entrance to the city” is considered part of a federal installation, then yes, it should be lowered. Otherwise there is no requirement, but anyone flying the American flag is encouraged to lower the flag in accordance with any proclamations if able to do so.

  5. Can you lower your flag if a family member does

    1. If that family member held a high rank position in the military or government, then it seems reasonable to do so on one’s own property. Someone may question you about it, though, so just be aware that lowering the country’s flag in mourning is typically reserved for the highest officials.

  6. So what if I can’t slide my flag half way down the diagonal pole that’s on my porch? I also don’t have access to a black ribbon. So would I just put my flagpole at a horizontal in stead of diagonal to show half mast?

    1. In that case, yes, set the flag to be parallel with the ground, as long as it doesn’t touch the ground in that position.

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