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Martha Stewart Living Television

Do you know that the triangular shape of a properly folded American flag symbolically represents the three-cornered hat worn by Colonial soldiers in the Revolutionary War?

The American flag is most commonly flown on holidays such as Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veteran's Day; it can be flown from sunrise to sunset on any day of the year. When not on display, it should be respectfully folded into a triangular shape.

How to Fold a Flag

It takes two people to properly fold a flag.

1. Hold the flag waist high and parallel to the ground. Keep the tension in the fabric at all times. Never allow any part of the flag to touch the ground.

2. This first length-wise fold brings the striped section over the "canton." That's the blue section that contains the stars.

3. On this second length-wise fold, bring the canton to the outside so it's now on top.

4. Starting at the end opposite the canton, make a triangular fold.

5. Take the outermost point of your triangular edge and fold it up, forming a second triangle.

6. Continue making triangles 7 times or more, until the last triangular fold brings the stripes to the canton.

7. Tuck the remaining flap into the slot formed between the stars and stripes.

8. The last step, which brings the red and white stripes into blue canton, symbolizes the day's light vanishing into the darkness of the night.

Meaning of the Folds

Special meanings have become associated with the 12 triangular folds of the traditional flag-folding ceremony:

1. Symbol of life
2. Belief in eternal life
3. Remembrance of veterans
4. Trust in God
5. Tribute to country
6. Where our hearts lie
7. Tribute to the armed forces
8. Psalm 23
9. Tribute to womanhood
10. Tribute to fatherhood
11. Seal of King David and King Solomon (for Hebrew citizens)
12. Holy Trinity (for Christian citizens)

Comments (5)

  • TrilbyLouise 24 Jun, 2010

    I am the daughter of a deceased Army veteran. I loved my father and all veterans who have served our country. I did not know the meanings of the folds and appreciate Martha's demonstration. I am also a writer and will be attempting to write a teenager's story with this information Martha shared with us. The flag folding was a very moving segment. Thank you, Martha!

  • gracesmithparker 1 Jun, 2010

    She did mention what each fold meant as she was folding it on the show.

  • Macmug 1 Jun, 2010

    At the end of the Flag folding you should have 13 stars showing in the blue field. You forgot to mention that when you finished folding.

  • djpard 6 Jul, 2009

    Share with us MagicFlute...

  • magicflute 4 Jul, 2009

    You did not mention the meaning of each fold. My son is a soldier on his third tour of duty in Iraq. Each fold has a special meaning.