A Guide to Folding the American Flag
The American flag is a strong symbol of the beliefs of our country, and in such, should be handled carefully. This article demonstrates how to properly fold an American flag, which is helpful if it is to be stored for an extended length of time, or if it is to be placed in a flag case.
The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded [begin reading as the Honor Guard is coming forward (if performing)]. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. (Our Flag Color Meaning has more information on the significance of the colors used for the American Flag.)The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country honorably in uniform.
In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation's honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
Wait for the Honor Guard (if performing) to unravel and fold the flag into a quarter fold -- resume reading when Honor Guard is standing ready.
This custom of special folding is reserved for the United States Flag alone.
To properly fold the U.S. Flag, begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.
Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely.
Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside.
Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open (top) edge of the flag.
Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle.
The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner.
When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
If handling a flag, whether a burial flag or not, one should be aware of the standard etiquette that is involved. There are also guidelines to assist in displaying the American flag, which is very helpful, especially if the flag is to be displayed in a public area.
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