To the Editor:
I was amazed at the trivial research and even greater nonchalant effort given by Associated Press reporter Jennifer Peltz in her article on flying the American flag at half-staff ("When should flags fly at half-staff?", July 2).
If Miss Peltz had made more than a casual effort to research this article she would have more than adequate information from the National Flag Foundation (NFF) @ www.usflag.org. They have been the standard bearer on flag rules and etiquette since 1968. Furthermore, she could have found the United States Code Title 4 which covers the in great detail the proper display of the flag and the seal of U.S.
The answer to the question about the over used gesture of lowering the flag to half-staff in mourning is very clearly defined by these two sources. The answer is a resounding yes.
Flags are lowered much too frequently to half-staff for the wrong reason and without the proper authority. It should not be lowered for celebrities, sports figures, or sadly even those killed in mass murders. To do so disrespects those it should be lowered for.
This is directly from the NFF website:
Good-Faith Misunderstandings: Although the code is actually pretty clear, confusion continues to occur. For example, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno recently ordered the American Flag flown at half-staff on all U.S. Department of Justice buildings, in honor of several DEA agents who had died. While NFF understands this gesture, the Flag Code does not give Attorney General Reno the authority to issue that order. Closer to NFF's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home, Mayor Tom Murphy ordered all flags flown at half-staff to honor the victims of a plane crash. Here again, a well-intentioned gesture, but one for which no authority exists.
NFF points out these "good-faith misunderstandings" not to criticize or embarrass anyone, but rather to head off a growing trivialization of this memorial salute, and to preserve the dignity and significance of flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. To any readers who may think that NFF is insensitive for raising these breaches of etiquette, please be assured that our motives are pure. We grieve these human loses deeply; however, we believe proper respect for our flag must be maintained - no matter the circumstances.
We owe that respect to our living, our dead and our flag.
James D. Slater
The author is a U.S. Army veteran