UPDATED: April 8, 2021 at 7:54pm

Governor Greg Gianforte is ordering flags throughout the state be flown half-staff beginning today (April 8) through Sunday, April 11, to honor the memory of former Montana Governor Stan Stephens, who passed away April 3, 2021.

Stephens was the twentieth governor of Montana between 1989 and 1993, according to the proclamation.

Driving around Billings today (Tuesday 4/6), you may have noticed U.S. flags flying at half-staff, but do you know why?

While on the elevator at the DoubleTree Hotel, on my way back up 23 floors to the Townsquare Media studios, a couple people I didn't know were also riding up to another floor, so I asked if they knew why the American flag, and the Montana state flag were flying at half-staff today.

While neither of them knew the actual reason why, one of their answers was interesting. A woman who was visiting from northern Montana said she thought it may be to show support for Governor Gianforte, who she heard "got COVID."

It is true that Montana's governor announced today he tested positive for COVID-19, but that announcement has nothing to do with flags flying at half-staff, which is only done when the entire nation is mourning.

On Friday (4/2) Governor Gianforte did order all flags in the State of Montana to be flown at half-staff, and it's to honor the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked on April 2nd at the U.S. Capitol, where one officer was killed.

According to the governor's order, which is "pursuant to President Biden's proclamation," flags were to be flown at half-staff through sunset tonight (Tuesday 4/6).

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media
Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs says the U.S. flag should be flown at half-staff when the nation is in mourning, and these periods are proclaimed by either the President of the United States, or the governor of a state or territory.

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Veterans Affairs also says the U.S. flag should be flown half-staff on Memorial Day only from sunrise to noon, and then it should be "raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes." When raising your flag to half-staff, it should first be "briskly run up to the top of the staff before being lowered slowly to the half-staff position," according to U.S. Veterans Affairs.

There were conflicting policies on when to fly the flag half-staff, according to Veterans Affairs, that was until President Eisenhower issued a proclamation in 1954 on when it should be done.

The longest period flags are ordered at half-staff is 30 days, and that's for the death of a current, or former President, according to the V.A.

To find out the current flag flying status in the State of Montana, CLICK HERE

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