Did you know that each fold has a symbolic meaning?

Don't forget to hang the real Old Glory. The star-spangled American flag is most commonly flown on holidays such as Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veteran's Day, but 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. This triangle is emblematic of the three-cornered hats worn by Colonial soldiers in the Revolutionary War. The flag is folded in such a way to represent the original thirteen colonies of the United States, and each individual fold also carries its own meaning. Here's how to do so, as dictated by the American Legion.

how to fold an American flag
Credit: Amanda DiGiondomenico

Fold 1

It takes two people to fold the flag properly, as it should never touch the ground. Both people should hold out the flag waist high, right side up, with its surface parallel to the ground, keeping the tension in the fabric at all times. Fold the flag in half lengthwise, bringing the striped lower section over the canton (which is the blue field of stars) and holding the edges together. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

Fold 2

Fold it again lengthwise, bringing the canton to the outside. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

Fold 3

Start a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge up to meet the open edge. The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

Fold 4

The outer point is then turned inward to form a second triangle. 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.

how to fold an American flag
Credit: Amanda DiGiondomenico

Folds 5-12

Continue folding the flag in this manner eight more times. 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.

Fold 13

These triangular folds bring the red and white stripes into the canton, symbolizing the day's light vanishing into the darkness of the night. The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."


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