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Croatia - Mourning Protocol

Last modified: 2003-08-16 by dov gutterman
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Mourning Protocol

Last Monday the Defence Minister of Croatia, Gojko Susak, died after a long sickness. This is a huge political event here, with much consequences in political and social life, but the discussion of that does not belong here. The state/military funeral was arranged for him (he was also a reserve general major) and the day of the funeral was proclaimed as a day of mourning in the whole country. In the Army, the mourning was in effect from the reception of the information till the day of the funeral.
This was an opportunity for a vex-info-gathering (it seems that the sad events are much more so then the happy ones), especially regarding the flag protocol here, and even more especially regarding the errors in the protocol.
I will write here all of the fact I had in mind, and leave some comments to the next message, looking forward to your comments (hoping that the way I did it would be interesting).
First, when the sad news reached the barracks, all the flags were lowered to the half-staff, including the flag at the main rally point, the flag of the unit in front of the command building and the flag of Red Cross on the ambulance building (these are the flags that are hoisted constantly in the barracks, the latter two even by night under the light of a reflector beam).
After a while, as I learned latter, after the protocol adopted officially by the government, the black flag was hoisted too, by the state flag on the rally point, on the other pole (there are two flag poles there) also half-masted (sic!).
As I told above, this was taken as a practice, and on all government buildings, administration and state owned buildings and by many civilians - two flags hoisted half-masted - the state flag to the viewers right and the black flag to the left.
On the funeral itself, just near the grave, during the ceremony, the state flag that was covering the coffin was folded so that it made a triangle, much similar to the way it is customarily in US and given to the grandson of the deceased Minister. Unfortunately, I missed the moment when the folding took place, so I can't report in which way this was done, but it seemed to be that the final triangle was much larger then it would be if this was done exactly the way the US flag is folded. The hypotenuse of the triangle was about half meter long. The folded flag had the chequered design visible from above, as well as parts of the crest over it.
In the city, on and in front of buildings that customarily fly more flags than just one (typically, business companies) in some cases only the national flag was half-masted, while in others, all of the flags were so. On the building of HDZ, the ruling political party, whose vice-president the Minister was, their flag was half-masted, too, naturally.
Near Zagreb in the city of Jastrebarsko, there were just opening of the military sports games with participants from some 2 dozen states. The ceremony of opening started with a minute of silence, and all flags were dipped in salute (or what it is called, when a hand held flag mast moved from vertical position to 45 degrees).
To take a look on another detail of flag protocol in the Army, the half-masted flag was lowered in the evenings straight down, and raised only the half way up in the mornings, quite inappropriate in my humble opinion. The black flag half-masted by it was not lowered whole the time at all.
Zeljko Heimer, 10 May 1998

On images <>, <6-24.jpg> and <6-25.jpg>, one can see scenes from the funeral of the Minister - how the flag was removed from the coffin, folded into trangle and delivered to his wife, and held by his grandson. Unfortunately, the proceidure of "trangulation" is not very obvious, but I guess that something very similar to US pattern was used. Anyone can confirm that from the photos?
Zeljko Heimer, 28 August 1999

Yesterday late in the night the Croatian president have passed away. Related to flags, as it is usual the flags were lowered to half mast, and they would stay so for three days of mourning.
Several flag related bits might be added from my first notices of the flag usage. The flag of the president (on the left) and the national flag (on right) were used on the car that drowe the body from the hopistal to his residence, where it would be laying until the burial on monday. These were made of metal, but also the two textile flags were on the first motorcycle in the avant-garde.
On the most places the national flags are half-masted properly (i.e. somewhat about the hosit size lower then top, to approximately half-mast). Where other flags are used to be hoisted (local flags, company flags and similar), these are also half-masted. Not unusual is to see also the black mourning flag to be hoisted, and this time (in difference from the year and half ago when the Defence Minister died, when they were not so), they are hoisted properly - i.e. not lowered to half-mast even if the next to them there are half-masted national and local flags. I consider that a very positive development towards the proper flag protocol.
Zeljko Heimer, 12 December 1999