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Why are the flags at half-staff in Arizona on May 3rd?

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs ordered flags to be flown at state buildings Friday in honor of a deceased Yuma city council member.

According to the governor's office, Gary Knight died on April 14. Knight was elected to the Yuma City Council in 2013. He also served as deputy mayor from 2017 to 2019 and was a member of many different boards and committees.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Councilman Gary Knight, who was a steadfast supporter and advocate for the people of Yuma,” Hobbs said in a statement. My thoughts are with his wife Bonnie, his children and the entire Yuma community as they mourn.”

Here's what you should know about the rules for the United States and Arizona flags and the difference between half-staff and half-staff.

What is the difference between half-mast and half-mast?

Usually the difference between the two is where the flag is flown. Half-mast refers to flags flown on ships, while half-mast flags are used for flags flown on land.

When are flags flown at half-mast?

There are certain holidays and events when flags are flown at half-staff in the United States. The Arizona Governor's website describes these days as follows:

  • Memorial Day, on which the flag should only be displayed at half-staff until noon and then raised to the top of the staff.
  • Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day.
  • Patriot day.
  • National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
  • National Firefighters Remembrance Day.

According to the website, presidents of the United States can also declare that flags will be flown at half-staff upon the death of an important person. In these cases, the flag would be flown at half-staff in the following cases:

  • 30 days after the death of the President or a former President.
  • 10 days from the date 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 date of death until the burial 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.
  • The day of death and the following day for a member of Congress.

The governor may also order the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff if a distinguished current or former government official or member of the armed forces dies while on active duty.

In Arizona, the governor can also require that the state flag be lowered for all government, institutional and educational buildings. The law also allows the state flag to be lowered upon the death of a sitting elected state official for seven days, beginning the day after the official's death.

Anna Harden

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