Following the mass shooting on Tuesday, the mass shooting on Wednesday, and the mass shooting on Thursday, President Donald Trump released a proclamation through the Office of the Press Secretary, ordering all United States flags to be lowered to half-mast in solemn respect for the victims of these mass shootings. Unlike previous half-mast notices, however, this one did not include an end date for when to return the flag to its full height. Since this announcement, maintenance crews across the United States have kept their flags at half-mast every day.
At first, many thought this was a clerical error on behalf of the White House, but were unable to confirm with them since President Donald Trump had fired and replaced the Secretary of American Flag Affairs, a high-level Cabinet position, multiple times since the office’s establishment. The current Secretary of American Flag Affairs is 23-year-old Amelia Rawlings, who just started working for the White House as an intern five days ago. She released a press statement instructing groundskeepers to “just raise the flag to half-mast every morning from now on. I haven’t really figured out this press release thing, and I don’t want to do it every time there’s a tragedy.”
Though the issue of lowering the flag to half-mast had not previously been on the radar of political parties, parties met Rawlings’ move to keep the flag lowered to half-mast permanently with bipartisan support. Progressive Democrats praised the new Secretary of American Flag Affairs for recognizing the prevalence of gun violence in America and viewed her decision as a way to raise awareness for the issue. On the other hand, fiscally conservative Republicans saw the move as a great way to reduce excess government spending on paper and ink for the once repetitive press statements about the frequently changing height of the American flag. The
American Union of Groundskeepers and Maintenance Crews also praised this move as one that will save their workers approximately seven to eight seconds every morning and every night as the flag is raised and lowered.
Don Harper, a spokesman for the Union of Groundskeepers and Maintenance Crews, lauded the move by the White House as one that “will save our workers a lot of time and work. It’s not something you’d expect, but the force it takes to raise a flag is exponential due to the gravity of the sun during dawn pulling the flag sideways, making it harder to hoist the flag up the upper half of the pole, especially now in the winter.” Harper also looked ahead and expressed his concerns, however, noting that “if an
extreme tragedy happens, like a super duper mass shooting, we’ll have to find another way to honor the victims. Maybe we can lower it to quarter-mast — that’ll be good for the workers.”