The Daily Courier

The Flagpole: Why is it at Half-Mast?

February 15, 2019

Why is the flag down? Surprisingly, no one is ever really sure of the answer. If you ask, the reply you’ll get will most likely be a speculative guess, and you’ll still be in the dark. So what’s the reason? Who does it? How do they know when to do it? We asked around and found some surprising answers. We discovered that it is the custodians who are responsible for the raising and lowering of the flag. However, who decides when the flag is flown at half staff is an entirely different matter. Both Pierson and Sag Harbor Elementary have calendars dictating when the flag should be lowered. The calendar is comprised of events by the federal, state, and local governments. This calendar dictates when the flag should be raised/lowered, at sunrise or sunset, and is constantly updated to fit with current events. For example, when President George H.W. Bush died, the flag was lowered on a federal order. Other times, when it is the death of a locally known person, the order will come from the local government.

Just last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed that flags on State government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent, who was killed in Northern Syria by a suicide bomber on Jan. 16. Chief Petty Officer Kent lived in Maryland and grew up in Pine Plains, New York. She was 35 when she was killed.

Valentine’s Day was not only a day of love this year but also a day of remembrance in honor of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen, who was shot and killed a few days ago responding to a robbery in Queens. The officer lived in Calverton and served in the force for 19 years. Governor Andrew Cuomo directed that flags on State government be flown at half-staff for Valentine’s Day.

The Hypothetical will now be implementing weekly articles discussing the reasoning behind the flag’s position outside of our school.

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