American flags will fly at half staff over state buildings in New York today. NY governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the lowering of flags to honor the three New York National Guard soldiers who lost their lives in a deadly helicopter crash yesterday evening.
In a statement released yesterday, Cuomo communicated his sadness over the loss of the citizen-soldiers. “I am devastated by the news tonight of a New York Army National Guard helicopter crash in the Town of Mendon that killed three of New York’s bravest during a training mission,” the statement read. Cuomo went on to extend “Prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones, and fellow soldiers of these honorable heroes who we will never forget.” He concluded the statement by saying that he was directing the lowering of flags over all NY state buildings. Cuomo shared this statement along with a similar message via Twitter last night.
Tonight we are devastated by the crash of a New York Army National Guard helicopter in the town of Mendon that killed three of New York’s bravest during a training mission.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 21, 2021
I’m directing that flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff tomorrow.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/ztSnTwD4V1
What We Know About the Helicopter Crash So Far
We do not know what caused the helicopter crash at this time. However, according to a local report, witnesses heard the engine sputtering. Before it went down, the helicopter was flying low to the ground. There were three soldiers on board the aircraft and none of them survived the crash.
According to Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, investigators are already on the scene. They expect to work through the night and into the early morning. Officials will be on the scene of the helicopter crash for as long as it takes to find the cause.
The helicopter was a UH-60 Blackhawk, outfitted for medical evacuation. At the time of the crash, the aircraft was on a routine training maneuver.
The History and Meaning of Flying a Flag at Half-Staff
Flying a flag at half staff or half-mast goes back to the seventeenth century. In many countries, it is a sign of mourning, respect, or distress. In the United States, a flag at half staff honors the dead. Whether it is in an event such as the Rochester helicopter crash or on Memorial Day, the half-mast flag is a sign of mourning. It is also a sign of great respect for the fallen.
Local, state, and federal officials have the authority to order American flags in their jurisdiction to be lowered to half staff.
Some sources say that flying the nation’s flag low on the staff or mast allows room for “the invisible flag of death.” however, others disagree.