As the year comes to a close, flags across the country are still flying at half-staff in honor of former president George H.W. Bush. The United States has a tradition of lowering flags at the Capitol and federal facilities nationwide during periods of national mourning, and 2018 has seen more days with the flag lowered than any year in the past decade.

There were many losses to grieve during the year

In 2018, the flag was lowered to half-staff for a total of 67 days, more than one-fifth of the year. Orders to lower the flag are given by presidential proclamation and generally fall into three categories:

’18

’09

FOR A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS

OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of national tragedies. All were mass shootings.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

HONORING

POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Sen. John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

’18

’09

FOR A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS

OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of four national tragedies — all resulting from mass shootings.

HONORING

POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Sen. John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

’18

’17

’16

’15

’14

’13

’12

’11

’10

’09

FOR A DAY OF

REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS

OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of four national tragedies — all resulting from mass shootings.

HONORING

POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

’18

’17

’16

’15

’14

’13

’12

’11

’10

’09

FOR A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of four national tragedies — all resulting from mass shootings.

HONORING POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Sen. John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

2018

’17

’16

’15

’14

’13

’12

’11

’10

’09

FOR A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of four national tragedies — all resulting from mass shootings.

HONORING POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Sen. John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

FOR A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

In 2018, the flag was lowered five times for national days of remembrance.

HONORING VICTIMS OF A TRAGEDY

The flag was lowered for 19 days to honor victims of four national tragedies — all resulting from mass shootings.

HONORING POLITICAL FIGURES

In addition to Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush, Sen. John McCain and Rev. Billy Graham were honored.

The flag was lowered for 30 days to honor George H.W. Bush. That length of time accounted for almost half of the days in 2018 when the flag was at half-staff.

On occasion, presidents may lower the flag to honor important figures or victims of tragedies from outside the country. President Barack Obama did this several times while in office, including proclamations for the death of Nelson Mandela in 2013 and the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. President Trump has not yet lowered the flag for any foreign figure or tragedy.

Who was honored and when

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

Feb. 15-19

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

MARCH

March 2

n Feb. 21, the Rev. Billy Graham, who frequently acted as a spiritual adviser for many presidents, died. He was buried on March 2.

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

Feb. 15-19

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

MARCH

March 2

On Feb. 21, the Rev. Billy Graham, who frequently acted as a spiritual adviser for many presidents, died. He was buried on March 2.

FEBRUARY

JANUARY

Feb. 15-19

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

APRIL

MARCH

March 2

On Feb. 21, the Rev. Billy Graham, who frequently acted as a spiritual adviser for many presidents, died. He was buried on March 2.

April 18-21

On April 17, former first lady Barbara Bush died after discontinuing medical treatment for her declining health. She was buried on April 21.

FEBRUARY

JANUARY

Feb. 15-19

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

APRIL

MARCH

March 2

On Feb. 21, the Rev. Billy Graham, who frequently acted as a spiritual adviser for many presidents, died. He was buried on March 2.

April 18-21

On April 17, former first lady Barbara Bush died after discontinuing medical treatment for her declining health. She was buried on April 21.

FEBRUARY

MARCH

JANUARY

Feb. 15-19

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, 17 students died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

March 2

On Feb. 21, the Rev. Billy Graham, who frequently acted as a spiritual adviser for many presidents, died. He was buried on March 2.

APRIL

April 18-21

On April 17, former first lady Barbara Bush died after discontinuing medical treatment for her declining health. She was buried on April 21.

MAY

May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day

 

May 18-22

On May 18, eight students and two teachers died in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex.

 

 

May 28

Memorial Day

JUNE

APRIL

April 18-21

On April 17, former first lady Barbara Bush died after discontinuing medical treatment for her declining health. She was buried on April 21.

MAY

May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day

 

May 18-22

On May 18, eight students and two teachers died in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex.

 

May 28

Memorial Day

JUNE

MAY

JUNE

May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day

 

May 18-22

On May 18, eight students and two teachers died in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex.

 

May 28

Memorial Day

MAY

JUNE

May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day

 

May 18-22

On May 18, eight students and two teachers died in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex.

 

May 28

Memorial Day

MAY

JUNE

APRIL

April 18-21

On April 17, former first lady Barbara Bush died after discontinuing medical treatment for her declining health. She was buried on April 21.

May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day

 

May 18-22

On May 18, eight students and two teachers died in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex.

 

May 28

Memorial Day

JULY

July 3

On June 28, five journalists died in a mass shooting at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

AUGUST

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

On Aug. 25, Sen. John McCain died of brain cancer and was buried on Sept. 2. Initially, the flag was lowered for only two days, which is standard protocol after the death of a U.S. senator. Trump later signed a proclamation lowering the flag again until McCain’s interment.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 11

Patriot Day

JULY

July 3

On June 28, five journalists died in a mass shooting at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

AUGUST

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

On Aug. 25, Sen. John McCain died of brain cancer and was buried on Sept. 2. Initially, the flag was lowered for only two days, which is standard protocol after the death of a U.S. senator. Trump later signed a proclamation lowering the flag again until McCain’s interment.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 11

Patriot Day

AUGUST

JULY

July 3

On June 28, five journalists died in a mass shooting at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

On Aug. 25, Sen. John McCain died of brain cancer and was buried on Sept. 2. Initially, the flag was lowered for only two days, which is standard protocol after the death of a U.S. senator. Trump later signed a proclamation lowering the flag again until McCain’s interment.

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

Sept. 11

Patriot Day

Oct. 7

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

 

Oct. 27-31

On Oct. 27, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue.

AUGUST

JULY

July 3

On June 28, five journalists died in a mass shooting at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

On Aug. 25, Sen. John McCain died of brain cancer and was buried on Sept. 2. Initially, the flag was lowered for only two days, which is standard protocol after the death of a U.S. senator. Trump later signed a proclamation lowering the flag again until McCain’s interment.

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

Sept. 11

Patriot Day

Oct. 7

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

 

Oct. 27-31

On Oct. 27, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue.

SEPTEMBER

AUGUST

JULY

July 3

On June 28, five journalists died in a mass shooting at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

On Aug. 25, Sen. John McCain died of brain cancer and was buried on Sept. 2. Initially, the flag was lowered for only two days, which is standard protocol after the death of a U.S. senator. Trump later signed a proclamation lowering the flag again until McCain’s interment.

Sept. 11

Patriot Day

OCTOBER

Oct. 7

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

 

Oct. 27-31

On Oct. 27, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue.

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NOVEMBER

Nov. 8-10

On Nov. 7, 13 people died after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

DECEMBER

Dec. 1-30

On Nov. 30, former president George H.W. Bush died, seven months after his wife. Trump ordered the flag lowered for 30 days. The last former U.S. president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006.

 

Dec. 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

OCTOBER

Oct. 7

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

 

Oct. 27-31

On Oct. 27, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue.

380px

NOVEMBER

Nov. 8-10

On Nov. 7, 13 people died after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

DECEMBER

Dec. 1-30

On Nov. 30, former president George H.W. Bush died, seven months after his wife. Trump ordered the flag lowered for 30 days. The last former U.S. president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006.

 

Dec. 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Nov. 8-10

On Nov. 7, 13 people died after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Dec. 1-30

On Nov. 30, former president George H.W. Bush died, seven months after his wife. Trump ordered the flag lowered for 30 days. The last former U.S. president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006.

 

Dec. 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Nov. 8-10

On Nov. 7, 13 people died after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Dec. 1-30

On Nov. 30, former president George H.W. Bush died, seven months after his wife. Trump ordered the flag lowered for 30 days. The last former U.S. president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006.

 

Dec. 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

OCTOBER

Oct. 7

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service

 

Oct. 27-31

On Oct. 27, 11 people died after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh-area synagogue.

Nov. 8-10

On Nov. 7, 13 people died after a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Dec. 1-30

On Nov. 30, former president George H.W. Bush died, seven months after his wife. Trump ordered the flag lowered for 30 days. The last former U.S. president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006.

 

Dec. 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

The more important the person, the longer the flag stays lowered

The official procedures for when the U.S. flag is lowered were first spelled out by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, these presidential proclamations apply to flags on federal buildings, on federal grounds, and on naval vessels within the United States and its territories. State and local governments, as well as private flag owners, often follow the federal government’s lead.

When an important figure dies, the length of time that the flag is lowered depends on the prominence of the office:

30 days after the death of the president or a former president.

10 days after the death of the vice president, the chief justice, a retired chief justice or the speaker of the House.

From the day of death until interment for an associate justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former vice president, the president pro tempore of the Senate, or the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate.

Number of days can vary depending on day of interment

Number of days can vary depending on day of interment

Number of days can vary depending on day of interment

Number of days can vary depending on day of interment

Number of days can vary depending on day of interment

On the day of and the day after death the death of a senator, representative, territorial delegate or the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico. In these cases, flags are flown at half-staff in the District of Columbia, on naval vessels, and at federal facilities in the state, congressional district, territory or commonwealth of the official who died, but not at other federal facilities around the country.

When a governor of a state or territory dies, the flag flies at half-staff at federal facilities within that jurisdiction but not in the District.

The president can also proclaim periods of national mourning for the deaths of any other figures or after a tragic event. There are no official rules for how long this mourning should last, but a period of five days is often proclaimed in remembrance of victims of violent tragedies.

All who were honored over the past 10 years

Proclamation in honor of Date(s) Total days
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2018 1
President George H.W. Bush Dec. 1 to Dec. 30, 2018 30
Thousand Oaks, Calif., shooting victims Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2018 3
Victims of the attack in Pittsburgh synagogue Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, 2018 5
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 7, 2018 1
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2018 1
Sen. John McCain Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, 2018 7
Victims of the attack at the Capital newspaper in Annapolis July 3, 2018 1
Memorial Day May 28, 2018 1
Victims of the attack at Santa Fe High School in Texas May 18 to May 22, 2018 5
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2018 1
Former first lady Barbara Bush April 17 to April 21, 2018 4
The Rev. Billy Graham March 2, 2018 1
Victims of the attack at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 15 to Feb. 19, 2018 5
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2017 1
Victims of the attack in Sutherland Springs, Tex. Nov. 6 to Nov. 9, 2017 4
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 8, 2017 1
Victims of the attack in Las Vegas Oct. 2 to Oct. 6, 2017 5
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2017 1
Memorial Day May 29, 2017 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2017 1
Sen. John Glenn April 6, 2017 1
Sen. John Glenn Dec. 9 to Dec. 17, 2016 9
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2016 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 9, 2016 1
Shimon Peres Sept. 28 to Sept. 30, 2016 3
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2016 1
Victims of the attack in Baton Rouge July 18 to July 22, 2016 5
Victims of the attack in Nice, France July 15 to July 19, 2016 5
Victims of the attack in Dallas July 8 to July 12, 2016 5
Victims of the attack in Orlando June 12 to June 16, 2016 5
Memorial Day May 30, 2016 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2016 1
Victims of the attack in Brussels March 22 to March 26, 2016 5
Former first lady Nancy Reagan March 7 to March 11, 2016 5
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Feb. 13 to Feb. 20, 2016 8
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2015 1
Victims of the attack in San Bernardino, Calif. Dec. 3 to Dec. 7, 2015 5
Victims of the attack in Paris Nov. 15 to Nov. 19, 2015 5
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 4, 2015 1
Victims of the attack in Roseburg, Ore. Oct. 2 to Oct. 6, 2015 5
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2015 1
Victims of the attack in Chattanooga, Tenn. July 21 to July 25, 2015 5
Memorial Day May 25, 2015 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2015 1
President Abraham Lincoln April 15, 2015 1
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2014 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 12, 2014 1
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2014 1
Memorial Day May 26, 2014 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2014 1
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2013 1
Nelson Mandela Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, 2013 5
President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22, 2013 1
Former speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley Oct. 29, 2013 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 6, 2013 1
Victims of the attack at the Washington Navy Yard Sept. 16 to Sept. 20, 2013 5
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2013 1
Memorial Day May 27, 2013 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2013 1
Victims of the explosion in West, Tex. April 25, 2013 1
Victims of the attack at the Boston Marathon April 16 to April 20, 2013 5
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye Dec. 18 to Dec. 21, 2012 4
Victims of the attack in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, 2012 5
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2012 1
Sen. Arlen Specter Oct. 16, 2012 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 7, 2012 1
Victims of the attack in Benghazi Sept. 12 to Sept. 16, 2012 5
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2012 1
Neil Armstrong Aug. 31, 2012 1
Victims of the attack in Oak Creek, Wis. Aug. 6 to Aug. 10, 2012 5
Victims of the attack in Aurora, Colo. July 20 to July 25, 2012 6
Memorial Day May 28, 2012 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2012 1
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2011 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 16, 2011 1
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2011 1
Memorial Day May 30, 2011 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2011 1
Frank W. Buckles, last U.S. veteran of World War I March 15, 2011 1
Victims of the attack in Tucson Jan. 9 to Jan. 14 2011 6
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2010 1
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 3, 2010 1
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2010 1
Sen. Robert C. Byrd June 30 to July 6, 2010 7
Memorial Day May 31, 2010 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2010 1
Dorothy I. Height April 26, 2010 1
Survivors of Terrorism April 19, 2010 1
Victims of the West Virginia mine disaster April 12 to April 18, 2010 7
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dec. 7, 2009 1
Victims of the attack at Fort Hood, Tex. Nov. 6 to Nov. 10, 2009 5
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service Oct. 9, 2009 1
Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Sept. 11, 2009 1
Sen. Edward Kennedy Aug. 26 to Aug. 30, 2009 5
National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day July 27, 2009 1
Memorial Day May 25, 2009 1
Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15, 2009 1

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly showed flags lowered for Barbara Bush and Antonin Scalia as only one day.

About this story

Information for days with flag at half-staff was collected from a database of presidential actions published either by the White House or the University of California at Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, co-directed by Professors John Woolley and Gerhard Peters.

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