Folding an American flag is nothing like folding your laundry — there is a specific and correct way to fold the national flag. If you are looking to hold your own flag folding ceremony or if you are interested in appropriately putting your American flag away for the season, you should learn the proper way to fold it before moving forward.
Read on to learn how to correctly fold the American flag, the history behind the tradition, and more.
How To Properly Fold The Flag
Don’t be intimidated. Follow the steps below, and you’ll be fully versed in flag-folding in no time.
Begin with your flag stretched out to its full length. Make sure to never allow your flag to touch the ground even while you are folding it. Having a friend to help you through this process will make it much easier, and chances are you’ll get better results.
Have one person stand at either end of the flag. Hold the flag waist high so that the surface is parallel to the ground.
Fold the bottom part of the flag lengthwise over the blue part of the flag where the stars are. Make sure to hold the bottom and top edges tightly so that you don’t accidentally drop it.
Fold the flag lengthwise once again. After this fold, the blue part should be facing the outside.
Triangles are the answer. Line up the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the top edge of the flag. This will form a triangle.
Make sure when you fold the flag that the end point is parallel to the open edge. This step will form the second triangle.
Keep on folding those triangles until your whole entire flag is folded up neatly. At the end of this process, you should be holding a perfect triangle. If you have done it correctly, it should only take thirteen folds, and each one signifies something special.
Once you are finished, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible. If you find that the flag does not look as neat as it should, simply tuck the hem neatly inside the folds so it isn’t visible.
Now you can give your flag to a friend or family member, store it away for next season, or frame the folded flag and display it in your home.
What Does The Flag Folding Process Represent?
Why is there such a specific formula for folding the flag? Why does it have to be folded into a triangle? Why doesn’t the flag get folded into a square or just crumpled into a ball? There is a good reason behind the meticulous method of flag folding.
The process was designed this way because each of the thirteen folds of the flag represents something. The ceremony itself represents the founding principles of this country.
The Thirteen Folds Of The American Flag: What They Mean
Each and every fold of the American flag has a specific purpose and meaning. Let’s break down the story behind each individual fold.
Fold Number One
The first fold symbolizes life. Life is something that we as Americans should not take for granted.
Fold Number Two
The second fold means eternal life. Eternal life refers to the Christian belief in life after death.
Fold Number Three
The third fold acts as a remembrance to honor veterans. It honors American citizens who gave their lives for our country as well as those who gave a portion of their lives in order to serve.
Fold Number Four
The fourth fold of the ceremony refers to a belief in a higher power, God. Many turn to God for peace and comfort. We look to the beyond for guidance in times of need and in times of war, and this fold reminds us of that.
Fold Number Five
The fifth fold is for our great country in general. America deserves to be honored, and it is through this step in the ceremony.
Fold Number Six
Fold number six pays tribute to the thing that keeps us alive; our hearts. We pledge the flag with our hands over our hearts, and this fold call to mid those iconic lines—We pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Fold Number Seven
The seventh fold is for our armed forces. They serve and protect our country and flag against enemies. They deserve a special honor and receive it through fold seven.
Fold Number Eight
The eighth fold is for those who entered into the valley of the shadow of death that we might see the light of day. This fold is for those who have died, and it honors this part of the human experience that we rarely talk about.
Fold Number Nine
The ninth fold honors womanhood. Women offer love, faith, devotion, and loyalty to this fine country. Womanhood molds the country we call home.
Fold Number Ten
The father has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country. Fold number ten represents the father.
Fold Number Eleven
The eleventh fold honors Hebrew citizens.
Fold Number Twelve
Fold twelve represents those who practice Christianity in our country.
Fold Number Thirteen
Fold number thirteen is for part of the national motto: In God we trust.
The History Behind The Flag Folding Tradition
The flag folding tradition is a long-standing way to honor the stars and stripes.
In 1923, as a result of the increased use of flags, a conference of veterans and patriotic associations took place. The meeting occurred in Washington D.C. At the convention, the code of etiquette for the flag was born. The intention behind this was to establish a tradition that ensured the respectful treatment of the flag by all American citizens, including those immigrating into the country at this time.
When Is It Appropriate To Fold The American Flag?
There are specific times when it is appropriate to fold the American flag properly. The flag folding ceremony is an honorable and elevating way to honor the flag on special days (i.e., Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and retirement events).
At the ceremony of retreat in the U.S Armed Forces, the American flag is lowered, folded properly into a neat triangle, and watched overnight as a way to honor America's dead. In the morning, the flag is brought out and flown proudly in the wind.
Are You In Need Of Your Own American Flag?
Looking to get a quality flag, but not sure where to buy one? Allegiance Flag Supply is amongst the best flag suppliers out there. We offer multiple flags that vary in size, as well as equipment to properly fly your flag.
If you are looking for a flagpole to place on your porch or in front of your house, Allegiance Flag Supply has curated all of the accessories you need. Allegiance also offers their flags individually, so they can be flown from commercial-grade, in-ground flagpoles. If you intend to set one of these up, be sure to check out these tips on the installation process.
If you are an American flag owner, it’s important to understand the basics of flag etiquette. Flag folding is a meaningful and historic process. If you are proud to be an American, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the flag folding ceremony before you embark on the task. Hopefully, now you can successfully fold the flag on your own.
Correct Method of Folding the United States Flag | va.gov
The US Flag Code and Proper Use of the Flag | Law Firm Carolinas
Flagpole Installation in 5 Steps | This Old House