Track services

Thousands of flags fly over the Capitol. They want to follow them

The program began in 1937, when a member of Congress asked to take a flag as a souvenir, according to the Capitol’s architect. website. Now they fly on special masts on the roof of the Capitol. Each flag rises on the pole for 30 seconds and comes with a certificate of authenticity that can be personalized.

People order them for all sorts of reasons, often to mark a birthday, death or other occasion. Flags are flown daily weather permitting, except New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The smallest option measures 3 feet by 5 feet and prices start at $20.

Employees of the Architect of the Capitol perform the actual flight, but if you want a flag, you must request it from your Representative or Senator, where junior staff members are ready to help. While the stages vary in the House and Senate, aides at both ends of the Capitol end up playing phone games with a bunch of desks if one of them goes missing.

“So the idea is to create a ‘Domino’s Pizza tracker’ for the flags,” said Bhatia, who now works as a legislative assistant for the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. “Then voters can see where the flag is in the process and hopefully won’t have to call.”

Bhatia teamed up with Anna Whitney, the flag cross on the Senate side. Sen. Cory Booker’s legislative correspondent reached out to the staff association when she encountered issues with the flag — part of the Senate process always included tracking paper forms.