Have you ever heard about a flag being flown over the United States Capitol and thought that it was reserved for only dignitaries or notable people? That's where you would be wrong - ceremonial flag flying isn't just reserved for notable people.

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My grandfather, Jessie Vail, passed away on November 1, 2020, and I knew that I wanted to do something special not only for my grandmother but to honor my grandpa's life and service not only as a member of the United States Navy but also through ministry as a pastor. I'd heard of flags being flown over the Capital for veterans and reach out to a few different people, but sort of got the run around...until I reached out to Senator Fred Akshar's office.

Robin Alpaugh, a Binghamton native who works with Senator Akshar, saw my email and replied with a link to the website for Congresswoman Claudia Tenney saying that I would be able to follow the prompts at the link to order a flag. In less than 10 minutes, I had the request submitted and payment for the flag had been made.

My grandfather's flag was flown above the United States Capitol on November 1, 2021, a year to the day that he passed away, and less than a week later, it was in my hands.

Traci Taylor
Traci Taylor

In 1937, a Member of Congress requested a flag that had been flown over the United States Capitol and that simple request has since turned into more than 100,000 flags being flown for Americans each and every year through the Capitol Flag Program.

If you would like to have a flag flown for someone special in your life, you should visit the website of your Representative or Senator a link that says something along the lines of "flag request." If you can't find a link to request a flag, you can send an email through the contact form and someone will get back to you with the link.

Then, you select the size of the flag that you would like to be flown over the Capital, write out some special words, request the date you would like the flag to be flown, pay a small fee for the flag to the House Office Supply Store, and then wait for your Congressperson to mail your flag back to you.

Traci Taylor
Traci Taylor

But, what happens during the time you fill out the request and the time you have your flag in your hands? A lot, actually.

After your request is made, a "pink card" is attached to the flag you paid for. Then, the flag and paperwork are taken to the Architect of the Capitol’s Flag Office which is located in the basement of the Capitol.

The Architect is the one who maintains and helps with the preservation of the entire Capitol Hill complex. On the date that you selected for your flag to be flown, a member of the Flag Office will fly your flag. The only days that Flag Office won't fly your flag are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

After your flag has been flown, someone from your Representative or Senators office will retrieve it from the Flag Office. In addition to your flag, they will also pick up a certificate of authenticity from the Architect’s office. Once the flag and certificate have been picked up, they will be mailed to you.

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