Patriot Day is a day designated for honoring the memories of those who lost their lives as a result of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. (This occasion should not be confused with Patriots Day, a different and much older holiday established to commemorate the Revolutionary War-era battles of Lexington and Concord.)
Patriot Day was created as a discretionary day of remembrance by a unanimously-approved resolution passed in the House of Representatives on 25 October 2001. The resolution designated September 11 as Patriot Day and requested that the President each year issue a proclamation calling upon:
(1) State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities;
(2) all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States and interested organizations and individuals to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and
(3) the people of the United States to observe a moment of silence on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001.
President George W. Bush has accordingly issued such a proclamation every September since 2002. Patriot Day has also been observed in Canada, with the Prime Minister ordering flags on Parliament Hill and at Canadian diplomatic missions in the United States to be flown at half-staff, and some provincial offices opting to lower their flags to half-staff as well.
An important piece of information missing from the e-mailed exhortation is that the President’s Patriot Day proclamations call upon the American people to “display the flag at half-staff from their homes,” as the occasion is a day of remembrance for honoring the dead. Since many flags used for home display are not designed to be flown at half-staff, an accepted alternative should be employed by persons with such flags, such as attaching a black ribbon or streamer (the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag itself) to the top of the flag.
The President’s 2007 proclamation also calls upon “the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and remembrance services” and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time to honor the innocent Americans and people from around the world who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.