The American and New York State Flags flying at full staff at the Henderson Smith State Office Building in Hornell, New York.

Flags on State Buildings


It is the policy of the Office of General Services to provide appropriate arrangements for the display of the National and State flags on the exterior of all facilities under its jurisdiction. General guidelines include:

  • National and state flags are flown every day of the year if weather permits. Weather conditions preventing the display of flags on any day include rain, sleet, or high wind. If the weather is inclement at the time of flag-raising, flags should not be flown until conditions improve.
  • Flags that are illuminated can fly 24 hours a day.
  • The POW-MIA flag is to be displayed over all state buildings and facilities on Memorial Day, POW Remembrance Day (third Friday of September), and Veterans Day. This flag should be displayed beneath the national flag if there is no third staff available.


Flags at Half-Staff 

The national flag should be displayed at half-staff on the days noted below, and may be displayed at half-staff on other days by special proclamation of the United States President or New York State Governor.

  • Memorial Day - Flags must be flown at half-staff until Noon, and at top of the staff for the rest of the day.
  • Pearl Harbor Day (December 7) - Flags must be flown at half-staff.
  • Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) - Flags must be flown at half-staff unless that day also falls on Armed Forces Day.
  • Patriot Day (September 11) - Flags must be flown at half-staff.


Frequently Asked Questions 

For additional information about flag display policy, refer to Title 4 U.S. Code (Flag Code) and New York State Executive Law, Article 19.


Who can order flags to half-staff for my school district, town, lodge, etc.?

Flags at individual schools, counties, towns, or other organizations and municipalities are under the supervision and control of the locality in which they reside. As a general practice, most local governments follow the lead established by the federal and state governments. The Office of General Services is solely responsible for the display of flags on the Capitol and other OGS-managed public buildings.


Can we get the flags flown at half-staff at the Capitol or statewide for our "cause"?

No. New York State Executive Law, Article 19, Section 400, states: "Because of the flag's significance as a symbol of our country, and the feeling that our citizens have towards it, the flag should not be a vehicle for the expression of political, social or economic philosophy as some groups and individuals have tried to use it."


Will the Governor order the flags down for a firefighter or a police officer who died in the line of duty?

The Governor may decide to lower the flags to commemorate the death of a personage of national or state standing, or of a local member of the armed forces, public servant, or another official who, in the opinion of the local agency concerned, contributed to the community. It may also be flown at half-staff during special periods of mourning designated by the President of the United States or New York State Governor.


Which flag goes under, or to the right of the other?

No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of the American flag, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel.

The American flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, and locations are grouped and displayed from staffs.

When flags of states, cities, or localities are flown on the same halyard with the American flag, the American flag should always be at the peak. When flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No flags or pennants may be placed above or to the right of the American flag.


What is the order of precedence when there are two flagpoles and three flags?

The American flag always takes precedence. Generally, the third flag is placed on the same pole, but under the national flag.


Why isn't the POW-MIA flag flown state-wide every day? Why is it flown every day on the New York State Thruway?

The POW-MIA flag is displayed over all state buildings and facilities on Memorial Day, POW Remembrance Day, and Veterans Day. The flag should be displayed beneath the American flag if there is no third staff available.

By proclamation of the Governor, since April 9, 1997, the POW-MIA flags have flown daily at the New York State Thruway's 27 travel plazas.


Why are flags flown at half-staff on September 11?

A joint resolution of Congress named September 11 as Patriot Day. The resolution requested that the President, each year, issues a proclamation asking states to lower their flags to half-staff on September 11. Every year, the President issues this proclamation and the tradition is expected to continue.