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Fly the Flag Low

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 14:24 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

On my way to work this morning, I noticed two instances, one in Shrewsbury and one in Worcester, of the United States flag being flown at half-staff (sometimes referred to as half-mast). I hadn’t heard of someone important dying, but inquiring minds want to know so I tried my luck on Google. Here is the announcement on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts web site:

Please be advised that Governor Patrick has ordered that the United States and Commonwealth flags be lowered to half-staff immediately until sunset on Thursday, May 20 at all state buildings in honor of former Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Frances Alexander of Beverly, who died Saturday, May 15, 2010.

Further research revealed that Alexander was something of a pace-setter:

She was the first woman to serve as president of the Beverly Board of Aldermen (now the City Council) — a job that goes to the at-large candidate garnering the most votes citywide. She was also the first woman to represent Beverly in the Legislature.

That second article goes on to say, “when Alexander first ran for office in the early 1970s, a seat on the school board was regarded in many quarters as the highest office to which a woman might logically aspire.” With this I would disagree. While it’s true that Massachusetts doesn’t walk the liberal walk where electing women and minorities is concerned, in 1970 the state’s 10th Congressional District was represented by Margaret O’Shaughnessy Heckler. That isn’t to diminish Ms. Alexander’s accomplishments or contributions, merely to clarify the situation.

Incidentally, if you are a Massachusetts resident and would like to know when and why the flag is lowered to half staff, send an email to Half-Staff Notification. I believe this covers when the flags are lowered at the state level. To find out the flag status in some other states, check out the links at Daily Flag Status.

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