Flags in Colorado will fly at half staff today, as they have been since December 14, to honor the children and adults who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut. They'll be raised again to their full height on Wednesday -- unless of course there is another tragedy, another senseless death in Colorado or elsewhere in the world. And there seems to be a new one of those almost every week.
President Obama and Governor Hickenlooper are the two people who can order that the flags be lowered in Colorado (see the full policy below), and although the state doesn't keep track of how often that happens, it feels like they have been at half mast in 2013 more often than not.
In addition to traditional days like Pearl Harbor Day, Patriot Day and Memorial Day, President Obama has ordered the flags down to honor U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens, who was killed in Libya; former Senator Arlen Specter, who died in October; Astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died in August; as well as fallen firefighters and the six people who were shot to death in August at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
They've also flown that way to honor Lakewood police officer James Davies, who was killed in the line of duty on November 9; Sergeant Mary Ricard, who was killed in September on the job at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Ordway; Army Staff Sergeant Christopher J. Birdwell, who was killed Afghanistan; Pueblo County Sheriff's Office Captain Leide William DeFusco, who was killed on duty in September; Colorado Springs Police Officer Matthew Tyner, who was killed in July; Denver police officer Celena Hollis, who was shot in City Park in June; Englewood police officer Jeremy Bitner, who died in May; 1st Lieutenant Alejo R. Thompson, who died in Afghanistan in May; U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jordan L. Bear, who was in March in Afghanistan; and U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Hall, who was killed in Africa in February.
The Aurora shootings included their own full set of flag lowerings. They were lowered every day from July 20 through July 28, and again on August 3 and October 23.
And those are just the ones we could find a record of.
To help, the state keeps a Current Flag Status page on its website and allows people to sign up for email notifications about when the flag is lowered.
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Turn the page to read the full Colorado policy on flag lowerings.
Colorado Governor's Office Flag Policy and Regulations
By the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado, under Article IV, Section 2 of the Colorado Constitution, Governor John Hickenlooper has adopted the following policy and protocol regarding the manner and display of the United States and Colorado flags at state facilities within the State of Colorado:
1. Flying the flag at half-staff a. The Governor of the State of Colorado may order the United States flag and the Colorado flag lowered at public facilities for any Colorado military service member killed while serving on active duty and buried in Colorado. The flags should be lowered on the day of the service member's funeral for the duration of the day between sunrise and sunset. b. The Governor may order the Colorado flag lowered after a Presidential order or request to lower the United States flag. This typically occurs after the death of a present or former official of the federal government, a principle national figure, or on marked occasions such as Memorial Day. c. The Governor may order the United States flag and the Colorado flag lowered to honor the death of any current member of the Colorado General Assembly, Colorado Court of Appeals or Colorado Supreme Court, or any former statewide elected official of state government, on the day of the official's funeral or memorial service. d. The Governor may order the United States flag and the Colorado flag lowered in response to a specific incident, such as a statewide or national tragedy, or when a law enforcement officer, firefighter or other first-responder is killed in the line of duty. Flags should remain lowered on the day of the funeral or memorial service for the duration of the day between sunrise and sunset. e. The Governor also may delegate authority to local officials to lower the United States flag and the Colorado flag within their jurisdiction to honor significant members of their community who have died. 2. Obligatory holidays on which the flag is lowered to half-staff. a. Memorial Day (until noon). b. September 11th. c. Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7). 3. Regulations on displaying the flag. a. The United States flag should always be displayed on the right (from the flag) to any state flag, or if in a procession, always first. b. No flag shall be raised above that of the United States flag, nor to its right (the flag's right). The Colorado flag must remain below the United States flag, and those of other nations must be displayed equally to the United States flag during peacetime. Foreign flags should be displayed to the left of both the United States flag and Colorado flag. c. The United States flag should always be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a large number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs. 4. Modification of rules and customs by Governor.
a. Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the State of Colorado, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Governor of the State of Colorado, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.