The death of a president; the loss of a military hero; the tragic attack of a cowardly terrorist! These have been the things that have brought our flag to Half Staff! The very image of the Stars and Stripes hanging midway on the pole reminds us of the sorrow and the loss. Our collective hearts breathe words of hope and encouragement to the families of the fallen and we, one people, share a moment of solidarity and grief. This is a good thing! These are healing moments for a hurting people.
There are specific rules in the United States regarding the flag being flown at half staff. Specifically, under 4 U.S.C. § 7(m) the flag of the United States is to be flown at half-staff in following circumstances:
- For thirty days after the death of a current or former president or president-elect.
- For ten days after the death of a current vice president, current or retired chief justice, or current speaker of the House of Representatives.
- From the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, a former vice president, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.
- On the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.
- On Memorial Day until noon.
- Upon presidential proclamation.
These reasons are right and bring a level of respect and dignity to a somber occasion; but the list may not be complete…
Admittedly, America is a Republic and not a simple democracy; but without getting lost in the definitions the following is worth considering. Around 1790, Historian Alexander Tyler stated this:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence:
1. From Bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage”
Where do you think present day USA falls on this list? Perhaps it is time to add another reason to fly our flag at half staff – the death of a republic!
However, these dark moments are not unique to our time. We have seen our flag come close to the ground many times and there have always been patriots who would fight to keep her in the air. Our task is now the same. While Old glory may need to rest in the middle of the staff for a few more years, she can rise again and be the “light on a hill” that she once was. Admittedly, the loss of a battle is fresh and the thought of re-taking the hill is wearisome Platitudes and well-wishes are falling on my deaf ears. But I do not believe the war is over. While breath still remains in the lungs of a free people, we must find a way to continue to fight for our freedom and our future. Parting thought:
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender… Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940
OPEN MIC: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
- Do you believe our nation can reverse the decline?
- What needs to change in order for our Republic to survive?