Flag Memos

Governor’s Office Flag Policy

Overview

  • The flag may be flown at half-staff by presidential proclamation or by the governor’s order. Only the president of the United States and governors of states, territories or possessions have the authority to lower the United States flag to half-staff, according to the U.S. Code.
  • The governor has authority over all flags at Alabama state operated facilities. In this capacity, the governor may order the flags at state facilities to be flown at half-staff in accordance with federal and state law.
  • The flag of the state of Alabama shall be displayed at half-staff for the same period of time as the flag of the United States. Additionally, when flown on the same pole, the order of placement from top to bottom shall be the United States flag, the state flag, and other flags.
  • In accordance with the U.S. Code, the flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
  • The United States Code can be referenced here. The Code of Alabama can be referenced here.

U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7m

Federal law governing the display of the U.S. flag and specifically the authority of governors to lower the flag, falls under U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7m, which states:

In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, or the death of a first responder working in any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving in the line of duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia, members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia, and first responders working in the District of Columbia.

When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, 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.

The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the 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; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.

Specific Protocols

In accordance with federal and state law, it shall be the policy of the Office of the Governor to authorize the national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff in the following circumstances and at any time deemed appropriate:

Regarding Deaths of Sitting or Former State Officials

Upon the death of a sitting constitutional officer, state legislator, or cabinet member, the governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of all state operated facilities, on the day of death and the following day. Flags should be raised to full staff at sunset on the second day.

Upon the death of a former constitutional officer, state legislator, or cabinet member, the governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol Complex in Montgomery and in the district in which the legislator was elected, on the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

Sitting members of Congress fall under the U.S. Code. Upon the death of former members of Congress, the governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol Complex in Montgomery and in the district in which the congressman was elected, from the day of death throughout the day of interment. Upon the death of a former U.S. senator, the governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of all state operated facilities from the day of death throughout the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

Upon the death of a former governor, the governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of all state operated facilities from the day of death throughout the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

Regarding Deaths of Military Persons, Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters

The governor may order the Alabama flag lowered when deemed appropriate in response to a specific incident, such as when an Alabama member of the military dies in combat or when a law enforcement officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty. The governor may order national and state flags to be displayed at half-staff on the grounds of all state operated facilities, on the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

Law enforcement K-9s are a part of the public safety community; therefore, in the event that a K-9 dies in the line of duty, the governor may authorize the appropriate cabinet agency official, in which the K-9 was a part of, to lower flags at the state facility the K-9 and his handler worked at, on the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

Regarding Deaths of Sitting or Former County, Municipal and City Officials

Upon the death of a former or sitting, county, municipal and city official, the governor may delegate authority to local officials, such as a mayor, to lower flags within their jurisdiction on the day of interment. Flags should remain lowered for the duration of that day until sunset.

The above State of Alabama Governor’s Office Flag Policy applies at all times unless otherwise ordered by the president of the United States or the governor of Alabama.