Patriot Day – 2015

Categories:National Holidays
Jim Bolinger
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The American Flag is to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on September 11th

Included in this blog is the following information:

  • Background Info
  • Meaning of Half-Staff
  • Authority to Order Half-Staff
  • Use of Black Ribbon
  • Use of “1st Navy Jack”
  • Patriot Day vs. Patriot’s Day
  • Historic Implication of 9/11
  • Flags Appropriate for 9/11

Background Info

September 11th has been designated as Patriot Day by United States Public Law #107-89.  This law amended Title 36 of the United States Code.

The law requests that the American Flag be flown at half-staff, a moment of silence should be observed and appropriate programs and activities should be held in memory of the victims.

September 11, 2001 witnessed the worst-ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  This terrorist attack claimed 2,977 victims (2,922 civilians and 55 military); more than the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 which claimed 2,402 victims (48 civilians and 2,354 military).  As of 2014, there are still more than 1,000 “M.I.A.’s” (victims whose remains have not been found).

Meaning of Half Staff

Current custom indicates that the nation is “in mourning” when the flag  is at half-staff.

The origin of this custom is difficult to trace. Most experts agree that it dates back to the late 16th or the early 17th century. Two theories exist. The first theory derives from the naval custom of lowering the flag to signify submission, in wartime to an opponent or at death, to the will of God. The second theory comes from the ancient Greek and Roman custom of denoting death with a broken column or shaft. A flag at half-staff symbolizes the broken, incomplete column.

It is important to note that when the United States flag is flown at “half-staff”, no other flag is to be flown at “full-staff”.

Authority to Order Half-Staff

The Flag Code (USC Title IV) cites certain dates for half-staff.

The President may order the flag to half-staff upon the death of a principal figure in the U.S. government or a Governor.

A Governor may order the national flag to half-staff upon the death of a present or former official of the state.

Private individuals or organizations do not have the authority to lower the national flag to half-staff.

Use of Black Ribbon

For a flag in a bracket mounted on the front of a house or building, it is not possible to “half-staff” the flag.  Therefore, a tradition of using black ribbons as a sign of mourning can be used.  One or 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.

Use of “1st Navy Jack”

Beginning on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attack (September 11, 2002), the Secretary of the Navy directed the use of the First Navy Jack (rather than the Union Jack) on Navy warships for the duration of the Global War on Terrorism.  The history of the First Navy Jack is complicated, but was originally believed to be traced to the Revolutionary War.  The First Navy Jack is a flag bearing 13 red and white stripes, a rattlesnake and the motto “DONT TREAD ON ME” [sic].

Patriot Day vs. Patriot’s Day

Patriot’s Day (not to be confused with Patriot Day on September 11) commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought near Boston in 1775. Patriot’s Day is held on the third Monday of April each year. Patriot’s Day is celebrated primarily in Massachusetts and Maine.

Historic Implication of 9/11

The lesson of 9/11 for civilians and first responders can be stated simply: in the new age of terrorism, we are all the primary targets. The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of the terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it.

The first responders of today live in a world transformed by the attacks on 9/11. Because no one believes that every conceivable form of attack can be prevented, civilians and first responders will again find themselves on the front lines. We must plan for that eventuality. A rededication to preparedness is perhaps the best way to honor the memories of those we lost that day.  (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, U.S. Congress, August 21, 2004)

Flags for 9/11

There have been a number of flags designed to commemorate 9/11 and to honor those who gave their life on that day.  There are other flags that “deliver a message” appropriate for 9/11.  Some of these flags are shown and described below.

Flag of Hero’s


Created with a sincere effort to honor and memorialize those who died in the terrorist attack of 9/11.  This flag, imprinted with the names of each of the fallen Firefighters, Police, EMS and Court Officers who perished on that day.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this flag goes to several charities including the Voices of 911 (supporting the families of the victims), the National 911 Museum at Ground Zero and the Flag of Honor Fund.

Flag of Honor – Memorial Edition


Created with a sincere effort to honor and memorialize those who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.  This flag is imprinted with the names of each individual who perished in these attacks.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this flag goes to several charities including the Voices of 911 (supporting the families of the victims), the National 911 Museum at Ground Zero and the Flag of Honor Fund.

 First Navy Jack (Flag)


Authorized to be flown on all Navy warships during the War on Terror.

Remember 911 Flag


This flag memorializes the three locations of the terrorist attack of 9/11.  It is a white flag that includes the outline of Pennsylvania, an outline of the Pentagon and graphic representation of the Twin Towers in New York.

We Will Never Forget Flag


The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack was commemorated by the design of this flag.  This flag includes images of a Firefighters helmet, a Police Officer’s hat, the skyline of New York and the beacon lights reaching into the heavens.

It is a powerful and iconic flag.  Although designed for the tenth anniversary, it is a flag that can be used perpetually to commemorate the attack and the resilience of the American people.

God Bless America 9/11 Eagle Flag

This flag commemorates the 9/11 attack and, at the same time by using the American Eagle, is a strong representation of strength and patriotism.

The Founders of our Nation chose the eagle as a symbol of our Nation to convey a sense of long life, strength and power for the country.   The eagle with its majestic looks represents a boundless spirit of freedom, strength and power.  The eagle has become the national emblem of a country that offers freedom in word and thought and an opportunity for a full and free expansion into the boundless space of the future. (Maude M. Grant)

Honor and Remember Flag 


The Honor and Remember flag design is distinctive, yet simple. Each detail on the flag symbolizes an important part of the overall meaning of the flag’s message.

The Red Field represents the blood spilled by brave men and women in America’s military throughout our history, who willingly gave their lives so that we all would remain free. The Blue Star represents active service in military conflict. This symbol originated with World War I, but on this flag it signifies service through all generations from the American Revolution to present day. The White Border surrounding the Gold Star recognizes the purity of sacrifice. There is no greater price an American can pay than to give his or her life in service to our country. The Gold Star signifies the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior in active service who will not return home. Gold reflects the value of the life that was given.  The Folded Flag signifies the final tribute to an individual life that a family sacrificed and gave to the nation. The Flame is an eternal reminder of the spirit that has departed this life, yet burns on in the memory of all who knew and loved the fallen hero.

 God Bless America Flag 


(Available only in 3’ x 5’ screen-printed on 200 denier nylon.)

Patriotic Eagle Flag


(Available only in 3’ x 5’ digitally-printed on high quality polyester.)

For additional information, contact Nicole at Flags International (574-674-5125) or [email protected]