In the United States, the term for the flag flown below the pole’s summit is half-staff (half-mast technically refers to nautical use but the terms have become interchangeable) and it symbolizes mourning and respect.
When Army Sergeant Shawn M. Farrell, 24, of Accord, NY, died on April 28 in an attack on his unit in the Nejrab district, Kapisa province of Afghanistan, in a war that’s ostensibly winding down, the shock and grief in the community were palpable. And the flag was lowered in his honor in front of government buildings and fire stations, and at businesses and private residences.
No more war. No more U.S. casualties. No return to fighting in Iraq. On Friday Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker said, “We’ve seen this movie before. And we know how it ends.”