In celebration of Labor Day, just a few days away, it is a good time to brush-up on our flag etiquette. With September’s arrival, it’s hard to believe that we only have four months left in 2015!

Have you ever missed a half-staff flag holiday or forgot to fly your U.S. American Flag on an important date? We’ve all been there. With busy day-to-day life, it’s easy to miss an opportunity to fly the U.S. flag, either at full or half-staff.

Our readers who are sailors (Ahoy there!) will know that ‘half-mast’ is a term used in reference to nautical flag poles, or masts. ‘Half-staff’ is a term used for any other flagpole whether residential or commercial.

Many of our readers have asked us about the dis­play and han­dling of the U.S. Amer­i­can flag. It 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 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 2015, important dates to note are:

Labor Day, September 7,
Patriot Day, September 11 (Half-staff)
Constitution Day, September 17
Gold Star Mother’s Day, September 27
Columbus Day, October 12
Navy’s Birthday, October 13
Election Day, November 3
Marine Corps’ Birthday, November 10
Veterans Day, November 11
Thanksgiving, November 26
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7 (Half-staff)
Christmas Day, December 25
Texas’ Birthday, December 29

For 2016, calendar the following dates:

New Year’s Day, January 1
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18
Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12
President’s Day, February 15
Easter Sunday, March 27
Mother’s Day, May 8
Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, May 15 (Half-staff)
Armed Forces Day May 21
Memorial Day, May 30 (Half-staff)
D-Day Anniversary, June 6
Flag Day, June 14
Father’s Day, June 19
Independence Day, July 4
National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27

Additionally, the flag is flown on each state’s birthday, which in Texas, is December 29th. We hope this list is helpful. Have a restful Labor Day enjoying the Stars and Stripes!

Sharon Schweitzer, JD is a cross-cultural consultant, international etiquette expert, and the international award winning author of Access to Asia. Her work has taken her to over 60 countries on seven continents; she speaks French and some Czech. Sharon provides organizations with practical techniques to improve global competence, cross-cultural communication and increase revenue. She has been quoted by the New York Times, Fortune, Bangkok Post, and numerous international media outlets. Sharon was a 2009 Honoree of a City of Austin program that celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin women. In 2012 she was part of the team that conducted a series of business preparedness workshops in anticipation of Austin welcoming thousands of international visitors to Formula 1’s launch at the COTA, and she was a Finalist in the 2015 Austin International Business Awards.

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