Citizens Discuss County Obligations on Flying Flag at Half Mast

An area resident approached the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors with a concern regarding the lowering of the U. S. Flag to half-mast. The concern arose when a claim by a county resident that Governor Kim Reynolds ordered state flags to half-mast at the passing of legendary University of Iowa Head Football Coach Hayden Fry at the age of 90 on December 18th. He had been battling cancer.

According to Dave Peterson, Fry was not a hero in the context of the nature of the word.  He stated that he thought the Governor had overstepped her bounds in issuing the order. Peterson wanted the county to change its policy of abiding by the Governors’ order to lower the flag to half-mast giving the county discretion on flying the flag according to the Governor’s orders.

According to U. S. Flag Code, only the President, the Governor of a state, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia can order the flags to half-mast. The pertinent section of the Flag Code says, “by order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

In the event of the death a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that state, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.” The code also includes other related details including the specific length of time during which the flag should be displayed at half-staff, in the event of the death of a “principal figure” such as a President, Vice President, Senator, U. S. Representative, or Federal Court Justice.

Supervisor Bill Jensvold agreed that the context of the word hero is not what it was.

Peterson said that he was not alone in his beliefs.

The county will explore options that are available to them before deciding on a policy of abiding by the Governor’s orders.


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