Q&A: Flags for Fallen Heroes
With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What is the Fallen Heroes Flag Act?
A: This federal law provides the American public one way to pay tribute to the legions of heroes across the country who pay the ultimate sacrifice in service to their neighborhoods and communities. Community helpers and first-responders who run towards danger to save others put their lives on the line, every day of the week, 365 days a year, in the line of duty. These ordinary individuals often take extraordinary measures to save neighbors and strangers, alike. Whether on-the-clock or off-the-clock, local law enforcement, fire fighters and emergency response crews serve on the front lines of public safety and go the extra mile to save lives. On any given day, these hometown heroes perform life-saving rescues with one mission in mind: to protect and serve. From house fires, to boating accidents, traffic collisions, medical emergencies or crime scenes, first responders are on the scene, often putting themselves in harm’s way to save others. We owe a debt of gratitude for our first responders who report for work every day. We grieve for those who don’t return home from the call of duty at the end of the day. For those heroes who lose their lives in the line of duty, Congress adopted legislation in 2016 to provide a symbolic measure of the public’s gratitude and devotion for their patriotism and service. The Fallen Heroes Flag Act authorizes the U.S. Congress to provide a U.S. flag flown over the Capitol in honor of fallen heroes to memorialize their service and sacrifice. The flag will be flown and shipped at no cost to an immediate family member. As the President pro tem of the U.S. Senate, one of my duties includes signing legislation before it’s sent to the White House for the president’s signature. For the next two years, I am honored to also sign the certificates from the Senate that will accompany each flag flown over the people’s house, the U.S. Capitol, in tribute to a fallen hometown hero. For grieving families left behind, the flag reflects the American spirit, patriotism and pride that unites our men in women in uniform. For those who serve in the Armed Forces to defend freedom and liberty on the battle field, Old Glory symbolizes valor, bravery and vigilance. For those who serve on the front lines as forces of good in our hometown communities, the stitches and stripes of the Star Spangled Banner represent the social fabric of civic life that connects neighbors in society. The Fallen Heroes Flag Act salutes those who gave their lives to make our communities safer and stronger.
Q: How can a surviving family member request a flag for their fallen hero?
A: The Architect of the Capitol administers the program and has set the following guidelines. A request must be submitted within 180 days of the fallen hero’s passing. Only one request per fallen hero may be fulfilled. Requests must be made through a Member of Congress. Iowans who would like to have their fallen family member recognized with a flag flown above the U.S. Capitol may contact my office at (202)224-3744. Remember, there is no cost to families who qualify for the Fallen Heroes Flag program.
In addition to the Fallen Heroes Flag program, the Architect of the Capitol also will fly U.S. flags over the Capitol for constituents who would like to commemorate a special birthday, anniversary or event. Note, no flags are flown on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day. A personal flag no larger than 8’x12’ may be submitted for a $7 fee plus shipping and handling; all flags must be made in the United States. Alternatively, flags are available for purchase in different sizes, in nylon or cotton. Requests must be made at least seven days in advance and must not exceed 45 days in advance of the requested flying date. Secure online payment is available. Payment must be received before a request can be processed. A certificate of authenticity that includes the personalized dedication will be shipped with the flag. To request and purchase a U.S. flag for commemorative purposes, go to the Constituent Services tab on my website at www.grassley.senate.gov.