May 2021, flag-flying dates


Childe Hassam,

Childe Hassam, “Victory Day, May 1919,” 1919, oil on canvas, 36 x 21 3/4 inches (91.4 x 55.2 cm), American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY. There were at least twenty-three paintings in Hassam’s series of flag paintings. This Victory Day celebration no longer occurs, though there are several other May days to fly the colors.

May has three days designated for flying the U.S. flag out of the specific days mentioned in the U.S. Flag Code, three days designated in other federal laws,  and three statehood days, when residents of those states should fly their flags.

Interestingly, the three designated days all float, from year to year:

  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May (May 9, in 2021)
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May (May 17)
  • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May (May 31)

Residents of these states celebrate statehood; South Carolina and Wisconsin share May 23:

  • Minnesota, May 11 (1858, the 32nd state)
  • South Carolina, May 23 (1788, the 8th state)
  • Wisconsin, May 23 (1848, the 30th state)
  • Rhode Island, May 29 (1790, the last of the 13 original colonies to ratify the Constitution)

In 2016 President Obama issued a proclamation calling on citizens to fly the flag on May 1, Law Day. It’s also Loyalty Day, which got a proclamation from President Obama calling for flag flying in 2016.

Trump did the same in 2017, and for Loyalty Day, surprising me that his office was organized enough to do it.

May 8 marks the 76th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the day the Axis Powers in Europe surrendered at the end of World War II.  Some years that day is marked by a proclamation calling for flag flying.  (You may fly your flag then even if Congress and the President do nothing.)

In recent years Presidents have proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, with flags to fly at half-staff. We might expect another such declaration in 2021.

May 22 is National Maritime Day, under a Joint Resolution from Congress from 1933. President Joe Biden may proclaim that day as a day to fly the flag, too.

Twelve events on fourteen days to fly the U.S. flag.  May could be quite busy for flag fliers.

  1. Law Day, May 1, AND
  2. Loyalty Day, May 1
  3. Victory in Europe Day, May 8
  4. Mothers Day, May 9
  5. Minnesota Statehood, May 11
  6. Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15 (half-staff flags; the law for Police Week calls for flags to be half-staff the entire week in which May 15 occurs, May 9-15 in 2021)
  7. Armed Forces Day, May 17
  8. National Maritime Day, May 22
  9. South Carolina Statehood, May 23, AND
  10. Wisconsin Statehood, May 23
  11. Rhode Island Statehood, May 29
  12. Memorial Day, May 31
US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court's west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court’s west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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