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Labor Day is quickly approaching, which for many Americans means a long weekend of relaxation spent soaking up some sun. But this national holiday is much more than a chance to hit snooze on a Monday- Labor Day honors the social achievements of U.S. workers and celebrates their contributions to national prosperity. In order to achieve the standards of fair pay and 40-hour work weeks that we enjoy today, protesters in New York and Chicago organized strikes to champion better labor rights. Originally proposed as a holiday in 1882 in New York City, this yearly tribute to national workers became a national celebration in 1894 under President Grover Cleveland, and has since inspired similar holidays around the world.

Nowadays, instead of striking in the streets, Americans observe Labor Day with barbecue, celebrations between family and friends, and flying the American flag in honor of those who strived for worker’s rights. Unsure about how to display and handle the flag this Labor Day? Here are some guidelines for raising the star-spangled banner with patriotism and pride.

Proper flag handling procedure is cov­ered under fed­eral law in Chap­ter 1, Title 4 of the United States Code. Our U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that dis­play­ing the U.S. flag is a pro­tected right under the 1st Amendment; however, it is possible to be cited for improper use of the flag. The United States Flag Code stipulates that as the symbol of a living country, the flag is considered in itself a living thing and should therefore be properly cared for and displayed. To properly honor the flag, you want to be sure you’re displaying it correctly:

  • Raise the flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously.
  • Never allow the flag to touch the ground or floor.
  • Do not fly the flag in bad weather, unless you are 100% certain it is an all-weather flag.
  • Fly the flag only from sunrise to sunset. It can only be flown at night if it is properly illuminated.
  • The flag should always be allowed to fall free.
  • The flag may not be used to carry, store, or deliver any items.
  • Never fly the flag upside down except to signal an emergency.

The U.S. American flag should be displayed every day, and especially on the days listed below. We have indicated the dates to fly the flag at half-staff.

From now until the end of 2016, important dates to note are:

  • Labor Day, September 5,
  • Patriot Day, September 11 (Half-staff)
  • Constitution Day, September 17
  • Gold Star Mother’s Day, September 25
  • Columbus Day, October 10
  • Navy’s Birthday, October 13
  • Election Day, November 8
  • Marine Corps’ Birthday, November 10
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving, November 24
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7 (Half-staff)
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Texas’ Birthday, December 29

We hope these tips help you raise the Star-Spangled Banner in style, and enjoy your Labor Day festivities!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin’s We Are Austin, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, The New York Times, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015.