How to Properly Fold the American Flag

Each fold has a symbolic meaning.

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 displayed from sunrise to sunset on any day of the year. When it's not billowing in the wind, it should be respectfully folded into a triangular shape. This triangle is emblematic of the three-cornered hats worn by soldiers in the Revolutionary War. The flag is folded in such a way to represent the original 13 colonies of the United States—and each individual fold also carries its own meaning. Here's how to properly fold the American flag, as dictated by the American Legion.

how to fold an American flag
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 and our trust in a greater power.

how to fold an American flag
Amanda DiGiondomenico

Folds 5 Through 12

Continue folding the flag in this manner eight more times. These triangular folds bring the red-and-white stripes into the canton, symbolizing the day's light vanishing into the darkness of the night. Below, discover each step's singular meaning.

Fold 5

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country.

Fold 6

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.

Fold 7

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, who protect our country and flag against all enemies.

Fold 8

The eighth fold is a tribute to all of those who have passed away.

Fold 9

The ninth fold is a tribute to women and mothers.

Fold 10

The tenth fold is a tribute to fathers.

Fold 11

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of Jewish 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.

Fold 12

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of Christian citizens, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

Fold 13

The last fold, when the flag is completely folded into a neat triangle, ensures the stars face upwards—reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

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