The American flag is more than just a piece of cloth; it is one of the most important symbols of the United States. It represents our past, our present and our future and stands for honor, courage and freedom. Thus, the American flag should be treated with the highest respect. When lowered, the flag is traditionally folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the American Revolutionary War.
How to Fold an American Flag
- Begin folding the American flag by holding it waist level between yourself and another person, so that it 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.
- Start a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to the open edge.
- Turn the outer endpoint 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.
Folding the American flag into a triangle is a respected and honored tradition, with each fold holding a specific symbolic meaning. The American Legion Auxiliary Blog explains:
What do the Thirteen Folds on the American Flag Represent?
- The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
- The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
- The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, the patriot who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
- The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.
- The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
- The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that 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”.
- The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
- The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
- The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
- The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.
- The eleventh fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
- When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”
In the U.S Armed Forces, once the flag has been lowered and folded into a triangle fold, it is kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead.
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