September 11th as been designated as Patriot Day by United States Public Law #107-89. This law amended Title 36 of the United States Code (also, known as The Flag Code). State and local governments and the people of the United States have been called upon to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities. Further, the law requested that individuals observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims. On that day, the flag of the United States should be flown at half-staff in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks.
One theory on the origin of “half-staff” is that it comes from the military custom of lowering the flag to show submission to an enemy or, at the time of death, submission to the will of God. Current custom indicates that the flag is “in mourning” when it is at half-staff.
When a flag is flown at half-staff, it should first be raised to the top of the pole and then lowered to half-staff. For a flag in a bracket on the front of a house, it is not possible to “half-staff” the flag. Therefore, a tradition of using black ribbons as a sign of mourning can be used. Two black ribbons of suitable length should be attached at the top of the pole. For a flag hung vertically, a ribbon should be affixed at each end of the “top” edge of the flag. These ribbons should never be attached to the flag itself.
It is important to note that when the United States flag is flown at “half-staff”, no other flag can be flown at “full-staff”. It is disrespectful to fly any flag higher than the U.S. Flag.