Why flags are at half-staff in three states today (2024)

Flags were lowered Friday to half-staff in three U.S. states, honoring the lives of two police officers who died in the line of duty and a veteran U.S. government official who served in the Trump administration.

North Carolina Deputy Sheriff Chris Johnson, Georgia State Trooper Jimmy Cenescar and Iowa's Bill Northey, who served as undersecretary for farm production and conservation at the U.S. Agriculture Department from 2018 to 2021, are being honored in their respective states.

Johnson, a father of four aged 51, died after he was involved in a three-car collision in Lillington, North Carolina, on Tuesday.

Why flags are at half-staff in three states today (1)

A law enforcement veteran of 25 years, he served with the Harnett County Sheriff's Office for 16 months and previously with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office and Dunn Police Department.

A Facebook post by Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said Johnson, who was also a school resource officer for Highland Middle School, succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the crash.

"He was a professional law enforcement veteran who was well respected by his colleagues in the profession and in his community," Coats wrote.

South Harnett Elementary School paid tribute to Johnson on Facebook, writing, "He was such a kind, wonderful man and he will be greatly missed."

A GoFundMe page to support Johnson's wife and children has raised more than $9,000.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered all U.S. and North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Friday.

"I was deeply saddened to receive the news of the passing of Harnett County Deputy Sheriff Chris Johnson," Cooper said in a statement. "Deputy Sheriff Johnson served the state and his community with distinction and honor, and my thoughts and prayers are with his friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, news station WTVD in Durham said on Wednesday.

In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp ordered the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the State Capitol in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, and at all Department of Public Safety locations, on Friday to honor Cenescar.

The state trooper, 28, served with the Atlanta Police Department before joining the Georgia Department of Public Safety in January 2023, graduating with the 114th Trooper School. He was killed in the line of duty on January 28.

Cenescar died in a crash while trying to arrest a fleeing motorcycle driver. A statement released by the Georgia Department of Public Safety on February 2 said Gerson Ayala Rodriguez was arrested in connection with Cenescar's death.

Rodriguez was charged with felony murder, first-degree homicide, felony fleeing and attempting to elude and reckless driving charges, in addition to other traffic-related charges.

In 2021, Cenescar received attention and praise for a daring rescue. He broke through a locked gate with his patrol car to reach a driver who had run off the road and plunged 50 feet into an embankment in northwest Atlanta, WAGA-TV in Atlanta reported.

An interview with Cenescar and footage of his rescue was released by the Atlanta Police Department. "My training kicked in, and I took action and took control of the scene," Cenescar said.

Cenescar's funeral was scheduled for Friday at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta, according to an obituary.

In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds ordered the lowering of flags at the State Capitol, on flag displays in the Capitol Complex and in all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state to mark Northey's death.

Northey, 64, served as Iowa's secretary of agriculture from 2007 to 2018, in addition to the federal Department of Agriculture. An obituary said he is survived by his wife, Cindy; his mother, Margaret; three daughters; and six grandchildren, among other loved ones.

Flags will be at half-mast until sunset on Saturday, the day of his funeral and internment.

Why flags are at half-staff in three states today (2)

Reynolds said Northey "was a great leader whose work ethic and passion for Iowa agriculture was unmatched."

"Iowans and farmers around the country were fortunate to have such a rock-solid advocate and friend," the governor said. "Bill understood well our responsibility to be good stewards of the land and exemplified that calling throughout his career. But his life's greatest role was as a loving husband, father and grandfather. Bill will be missed."

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said in a tribute published earlier this week that the state's farm community had "lost a giant."

"Bill Northey was a dear friend and fierce advocate for the family farmer," Grassley said. "As Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture and Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the United States Department of Agriculture under President Trump, Bill's commitments to agriculture, biofuels and conservation were unmatched."

Grassley added: "The Northey family have been friends of the Grassleys since 1980, for over two generations. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time."

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Why flags are at half-staff in three states today (2024)


Why are flags at half-mast in USA? ›

In most cases, an American flag flying at half-staff marks one of three observances: The death of a government official, military member, or emergency first responder. A national tragedy. Memorial Day or another national day of remembrance.

What is the flag status today in Texas? ›

The Texas flag is at full-staff today.

Why Indian flags are half down? ›

3.53 If State mourning is to be observed on the death of any dignitary, the Flag shall be half-masted throughout the period of the mourning throughout India in the case of the Union dignitaries and throughout the State or Union territory concerned in the case of a State or Union territory dignitary.

What is the etiquette for the Memorial Day flag? ›

On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation's battle heroes.

Is it illegal to fly a flag at night without a light? ›

Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it's illuminated during darkness.

Why are there 50 stars on the American flag but 52 states? ›

The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British crown and became the first states in the Union. Nicknames for the flag include "the Stars and Stripes", "Old Glory", and "the Star-Spangled Banner".

Why is the flag at half mast today in Texas May 5, 2024? ›

In accordance to Public Law 107-51, the American flag should be lowered to half-staff on Sunday, May 5, 2024 from sunrise to sunset in observance of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.

Why is there 6 flags Over Texas? ›

"Six flags over Texas" is the slogan used to describe the six sovereign countries that have had control over some or all of the current territory of the U.S. state of Texas: Spain (1519–1685; 1690–1821), France (1685–1690), Mexico (1821–1836), the Republic of Texas (1836–1845), the United States (1845–1861; 1865– ...

What does the white on the Texas flag mean? ›

Colors in the flags of both the United States and Texas mean red for courage, white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty.

Why don't flags fly at night? ›

According to the US Flag Code, all American flags should be displayed from sunrise to sunset every day. Lowering the flag at night is an ultimate sign of respect for Old Glory. But like many rules, there is an exception. You can keep your flag flying 24-hours if it is properly illuminated during all hours of darkness.

Can you fly a flag at half-mast for anyone? ›

Also see Can the governor order the US flag half-staffed for anyone he or she chooses? Can my company fly the US flag at half-mast for a former employee? No. According to the Flag Code, only the president of the US or your state governor can order the US flag lowered to half-staff.

What is the tri color flag? ›

In the national flag of India the top band is of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra. The last band is green in colour shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.

Are you supposed to take flag down in rain? ›

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, with the exception of an all-weather (nylon or other non-absorbent material) flag.

Is it appropriate to wear a flag shirt on Memorial Day? ›

As we honor America's brave servicemen and women, Memorial Day is the perfect time to don your custom American flag shirt. This national holiday commemorates those who gave their lives in service of the nation—a somber reminder that freedom isn't always free.

What does the American flag represent today? ›

The American flag remains a living piece of history and a source of pride and unity for all Americans. The Stars and Stripes embodies the very qualities that make our nation great: liberty, justice, freedom, love of country and national purpose.

How long are flags kept at half-mast? ›

The death of the president or a former president: 30 days. The death of the vice president: 10 days. The death of the current (or retired) chief justice of the Supreme Court: 10 days. The death of the speaker of the House of Representatives: 10 days.

What are the 5 American flag rules? ›

Displaying the Flag
  • On Same Staff. U.S. flag at peak, above any other flag.
  • Grouped. U.S. flag goes to its own right. ...
  • Marching. U.S. flag to marchers right (observer's left).
  • On Speaker's Platform. ...
  • Decoration. ...
  • Salute. ...
  • Over a Street Union (stars) face north or east depending on the direction of the street.
  • Half Staff.

What do the seven red stripes on the flag mean? ›

The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.


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