Mixed message from Washington flags after death of Sen. McCain

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Two days after the death of veteran Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), flags were back at full-staff at the White House following a weekend tribute to the Arizona Senator, but other government buildings and museums in the nation’s capital were treating things differently on Monday morning, with some still flying flags at half-staff in McCain’s honor.

The federal flag code is clear on such honors, that unless there is a special declaration from the President of the United States, the flags are flown at half-staff ‘on the day and day after the death’ of a U.S. Senator or House member.

McCain died on Saturday afternoon, and the flags were at half-staff at the White House later that day, and again on Sunday.

And as the new work week began, the flags returned to their normal position at the White House.

But a quick morning tour of government buildings, museums, and private buildings around the National Mall – between Capitol Hill and the White House – showed various federal agencies treating this day differently when it came to how the flag was being displayed.

For example, flags at the Federal Aviation Administration on Independence Avenue were at half staff.

 

Next door at the Department of Energy, it was the same.

 

But just down the block at the Department of Agriculture, the flag was back at full-staff.

 

Museums and memorials were split – the headquarters of the Smithsonian had the U.S. flag at full-staff, as did the Washington Monument, while the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of African American History were at half-staff.  The U.S. Postal Service had its flags at half-staff outside the headquarters building.

Also flying the flag at half-staff, was the Canadian Embassy, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House.

 

Along Constitution Avenue, federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Administration had their flags back at full-staff.

 

But about six blocks away, the Department of Labor was at half-staff.

 

Up on Capitol Hill, the rules are different, as Congress takes longer to honor a deceased lawmaker – here, the flag flies at half-staff over the Russell Senate Office Building, which some want to rename for Sen. McCain.

 

Some private buildings joined in that honor as well – this is home to the powerful Jones-Day law firm, not far from the U.S. Capitol.

 

But just over at the U.S. Supreme Court, the flags were at full-staff.

 

Meanwhile, down at the Washington Monument, the flags had been at full-staff when I drove by this morning. But on TV a little while later, you could see the flags were lowered to half-staff.

Earlier in the day, the flags at the Washington Monument had been at full-staff, as you can see in this photo that I took.

But through the day, there were changes. I took the photo above at the U.S. Supreme Court around 10:15 am. At 11:30, I looked out from the Capitol, and saw the flag at half-staff. An hour later, it was back to full-staff.  The National Monument flags were also at full-staff.

By 2 pm, the flags were at full-staff at the FAA, the Department of Energy, and the Postal Service.

But the National Archives had lowered its flags to half-mast, after being normal this morning.

 

Next door, the Department of Justice had its flags on Constitution Avenue lowered to half-staff – they were full-staff this morning around 10 am.

 

 

At the Capitol, and all of the House and Senate office buildings, the flags were at half-staff, as is usual custom for a departed lawmaker.

 

McCain will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda later this week; lawmakers will gather for a ceremony to honor him on Friday.

A funeral service on Saturday will be held at the Washington National Cathedral. McCain will then be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.