CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The flags at Coral Springs government buildings were at half-staff yet again on Wednesday, this time honoring the late Congressman Alcee Hastings.
It was the sixth time since February that the city lowered flags at city hall, the public safety building, and other city facilities, according to the city’s social media pages.
A tradition for hundreds of years, the lowering of flags is often a symbol of mourning or remembrance of a national or local figure or a major tragedy.
Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook said residents passing a city building with lowered flags should take a moment and reflect.
“I hope our residents take the time to respect the loss of someone who contributed to our freedom, or peace or whatever positive impact someone had on our community or nation,” Brook said.
For Vice Mayor Joshua Simmons, the most recent lowering of the flags in memory of Hastings was more personal.
He said Hastings hosted one of his early fundraisers when he ran for the commission and they talked a few times on the phone when Simmons needed guidance.
“His passing is a tremendous loss for our county and country,” he said.
He said lowering the flags is a way to bring the nation together, especially now in these divided times.
The goal, he said, is “to take a collective moment to recognize and honor those we have lost, whether it's for public servants of national renown who contributed positively to our country or Americans who have died tragically in an unprecedented event.”
The custom of lowering a flag may go back, some historians point out, to a British expedition to Canada in 1612 aboard the ship Heart's Ease. The captain, James Hall, was killed, and the crew lowered the ship's flag to half-mast to signal people on land that something had gone wrong.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there were no regulations at the federal level for flying flags at half-staff in the early days of the nation.
But in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the proper times for lowering the U.S. flag after the deaths of presidents, congressional leaders, Supreme Court justices, and other national figures.
Since February, except for one case, Coral Springs lowered its flags after orders from President Biden.
That exception was for the remembrance of two slain F.B.I agents in Sunrise. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to be lowered, according to media reports.
Here are the days the flags were lowered in Coral Springs, including excerpts from the city’s social media posts.
Feb. 3: “Today, the city lowers its flags at all facilities to half-staff to honor FBI Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger. Both were committed to protecting children and ensuring justice to those who prey on the innocent. Their tireless work is credited to protecting countless children.”
Feb. 23: “By order of the President of the United States, all flags at Coral Springs facilities will be flown at half-staff now through February 26, 2021, to honor the 500,000 lives lost as a result of the COVID-19 virus across our Nation. We as a city reflect on their loss and the loved ones left behind, as we continue the fight to prevent and protect the public from this virus.”
March 18: “As directed by the President, the City of Coral Springs has its flags at half-staff until sunset on March 22 to show our respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence that took place in the Atlanta Metropolitan area on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.”
March 23: “The City of Coral Springs has our flags at half-staff, as directed by the President, to show our support to the 10 victims whose lives were lost during the horrific mass shooting that took place in the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. With a heavy heart, we understand too well the heartache and struggle that the Boulder community is experiencing and we extend our deepest condolences to the entire community. We stand with the people of Boulder during this very difficult time and offer our support and assistance as they navigate through grief and work towards healing.”
April 3: “President Biden has ordered all United States flags to half-staff immediately through April 5, 2021, as a sign of respect for the service and sacrifice of the victims of the attack at the United States Capitol.”
April 7: “By order of the President, flags at all city facilities are at half-staff in honor of the life and legacy of Congressman Alcee Hastings until sundown today.”
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