Flags at half-staff for Ford

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The death of former President Gerald R. Ford changes flag etiquette in the United States for 30 days.

Local businesses and governments dropped their flag to half-staff when President Ford died on December 26, 2006. That is traditional in the death of a president.

U.S. President George W. Bush formally declared a national tribute to the fallen former Commander-In-Chief in a proclamation to the American people.

“Now, Therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, in honor and tribute to the memory of Gerald R. Ford, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds and Naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days from the day of his death,” Bush wrote in the proclamation.

Ahoskie American Legion Post 102 Commander Herbert Lassiter said he felt many people didn’t follow flag etiquette because they didn’t know.

“I have a photo album I was going through last night and on the front is a statement ‘freedom isn’t free’ and I spent some time thinking about that,” he said.

Lassiter said he thought about Korea, Vietnam and the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr.

“I think sometimes we don’t pay the respect to veterans and those who fought to keep us free,” he added. “At other times, I think people just don’t know what they’re supposed to do.

“I encourage everyone to show the honor and respect due to President Ford by following the flag etiquette at this time,” Lassiter closed.

Since September, 2001 many businesses and homes in the United States have begun to fly the American flag on a more routine bases. With the flying of the flag, however, there is proper etiquette to be followed in certain situations.

From now until January 24, the flags of the country should be flown at half-staff according to ushistory.org. Even that seemingly simple task, however, isn’t as easy as it may seem.

To properly display the flag at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position.

At the end of the day, before the flag is lowered, it should again be raised to the peak before it is taken in for the day.

Proper flag etiquette is available by logging on to http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagetiq.html.