Unless you were a Boy Scout or are serving in the military, you may not know how to fold the American flag. It is proper to fold the flag in the correct way to keep it contained and safe, and also to ensure that the flag is being treated with respect and reverence. Remember, American flags should never touch the ground, and folding the American flag properly takes two people.
Here is the step-by-step process:
- Two people should each grasp the corners of the short ends of the flag, facing each other. The flag should be held waist high.
- The flag should be folded in half lengthwise, with the striped side coming up and over the side with the blue field.
- The flag should be folded in half again lengthwise, this time so the blue field comes up from underneath and appears on top. The flag should be kept taut.
- At the striped end, begin folding in a triangle. This is done by turning the striped corner of the edge with a fold to line up with the open flag edge. Fold from right to left.
- Repeat the triangle fold until the triangle is covered with the blue field.
- Fold down the last square so that it covers the triangle.
- Tuck the end inside the folds to make a tight bundle.
There are many reasons and events where folding the American flag is appropriate, all outlined by the US Flag Code. Some of the more common instances are when taking the flag down from a flagpole for overnight storage and presenting it to family members after it has decorated a casket of a member of the Armed Forces.
When done correctly, there are 13 folds (2 lengthwise and 11 triangular) that many feel represent the 13 original colonies of the United States of America. Others also feel that the finished triangular folded American flags is a reminder of a three-cornered hat similar to the ones worn by Revolutionary War patriots.
Storing a folded flag is appropriate for American flags that are in regular use. However, if a flag is stored this way for a long time, it could cause permanent folds or creases. For long-term storage, a flag should be stored flat. A flag can also be rolled up and placed in a tube made of acid-free material. Don’t use cardboard or wood for flag storage.