If you have ever been lucky enough to witness the American flag being ceremoniously folded into a triangle, you may have wondered why the process is so meticulous. It is because each fold of the American flag symbolizes something.
Flag folding ceremonies usually take place during important funerals and burials. The ritual is to be taken seriously and has a rich background. The flag folding ceremony is a product of long-held tradition and acts as a sign of patriotism and respect for our country.
Here we are going to break down what each fold of the American flag means. But first, we must answer the pressing question: why a triangle?
Why A Triangle?
It is likely that you have seen the flag being folded at least once in your life. The ceremonial folding begs the question, why is it done that way? The flag gets folded into a triangle because it is actually meant to resemble a tri-cornered hat, like the ones worn by George Washington and other soldiers who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
The process begins by folding the flag lengthwise two times. It then typically takes thirteen triangle folds to achieve the right shape. By the end of the folding, the flag’s red and white stripes should no longer be visible. The blue background and white stars should be the only fabric facing outward.
At the end of duty each day, military bases conduct retreat ceremonies by folding the flag. The flag folding method is meant to symbolize daylight disappearing into the night’s darkness, leaving a field of blue with bright white stars shining through the night.
The Thirteen Folds Of The American Flag
As we mentioned, each fold of the American flag represents something different. Let’s go through the entire process to see the symbolism involved in this important ceremony.
The First Fold
The first fold of the flag symbolizes life.
The Second Fold
The second fold of the flag is a symbol of belief in eternal life.
The Third Fold
Fold number three is made to honor and remember veterans who have departed our ranks and those who gave a portion of their lives to the defense and betterment of America.
The Fourth Fold
The fourth fold in the American flag calls attention to our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God. Some turn to God for advice and guidance.
The Fifth Fold
The fifth fold acts as an acknowledgment to our country.
The Sixth Fold
Fold number six represents where our hearts lie. This means that it is with our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the flag, hence why we put our hands over our hearts when we say the pledge.
The Seventh Fold
The seventh fold acts as a tribute to our armed forces. Our armed forces protect and serve our country and flag against enemies.
The Eighth Fold
The eighth fold is a tribute to someone who entered into the valley of the shadow of death and that we might see the light of day.
The Ninth Fold
The ninth fold honors womanhood. It is through the faith, love, loyalty, and devotion of womanhood that our country’s men and women are molded.
The Tenth Fold
Fold number ten represents the father, for the father has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country.
The Eleventh Fold
The eleventh fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in honor of Jewish citizens.
The Twelfth Fold
The twelfth fold, in honor of Christian citizens, stands for the emblem of eternity.
The Thirteenth Fold
The final and thirteenth fold is meant to remind us of our nation’s motto, “In God we trust.” When the flag is completely folded, the star should be facing upward.
Flag Folding Tips
It might seem simple, but the exact details of folding the American flag can prove to be a bit more challenging than you might expect. Follow these tips for the best results. You will need more than one person to complete this task.
- Fold the flag in half lengthwise.
- Repeat that fold again. Be very careful that the blue field stays on the outside.
- As one person holds the flag by the blue field, another person makes a triangular fold in the opposite end.
- Continue to make triangular folds until the flag is entirely folded into a triangle (it should take thirteen folds to complete).
- Tuck the loose end of the flag into the pocket that you formed with the folds so that only the blue field with the white stars visible.
Try Folding The Flag Into A Triangle Yourself
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Allegiance Flag Supply was founded by three friends who value quality fabric and patriotism. They set out to start their company because they were looking for high-quality American flags made in the U.S.A and found the market lacking. We pride ourselves on crafting the highest-quality American flags here at Allegiance, made of the best American-sourced materials and providing American jobs along the way
Visit our website to get your flag today. You will be a flag-folding expert in no time!
American Flag Etiquette
Now that you are familiar with the meaning behind the American flag folding ceremony, it might be a good idea to brush up on your general American flag etiquette. We have made it easy! Follow these guidelines when it comes to handling the American flag.
- Never lower an American flag into a grave or allow it to touch the ground.
- An American flag should never be used as a covering to a statue or monument.
- A flag should never be used in a way that enables it to be torn, dirtied, or damaged.
- Do not place anything on an American flag. You should also never mark up an American flag or attach anything to one.
- It should never be used to hold or carry objects.
- A flag that is no longer fit to be flown (as in its damaged or dirty) should be privately destroyed by fire.
- A draped flag should be held over the casket by pallbearers and folded in the proper way.
- An American flag should never be flown at night without adequate lighting to shine down on it.
Why Is Flag Etiquette Important?
The American flag has always been there to unify the American people during trying times. Without the respect and dignity of American citizens, the American flag would not be as powerful or unifying as it is.
After the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, American flags were flown everywhere throughout the country as a symbol of solidarity and national support. American flags were also used as a tool for unification during national holidays such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day, and more.
The flag has procedures such as the flag folding ceremony and half-mast protocols for a reason. The flag is a symbol of our country, which is why it should be treated with respect.
The tradition of the flag ceremony is important and long-standing. The next time you see a flag ceremony honoring a person who served our country in the Armed Forces or in our local civilian services like the Police Force or the Fire Department, remember the purpose of each and every fold. Those being honored by the ceremony have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us all by honoring our flag and the United States of America.
If you are looking to get a better idea of how to properly fold an American flag yourself, make sure to go to Allegiance Flag Supply for your very own, high-quality American flag!