How to fold the Flag

The fundamental rule of flag Etiquette is" treat all flags with respect and common sense."

  • The improper use and display of a U.S. flag and flags of your visitors is worse than no display at all.
  • The U.S. flag is flown upside down only as a sign of distress. It can be a great insult to fly a flag upside down. Great care should be taken when displaying flags of others.
  • The U.S. flag takes precedence over all other flags when flown within the United States. It should be raised first and lowered last. It should not be flown lower than another flag nor should it be smaller than another flag flown with it. Other flags may, however, be flown at the same height and in the same size. Other national flags should not be smaller nor flown lower than the Stars and Stripes when displayed together. If it is not possible to display two or more national flags at the same height, then it is not proper to display them together at all.
  • The point of honor is on the extreme left from the standpoint of the observer. The order from left to right of flags flown together is: the U.S. flag, other national flags in alphabetical order, state flags, county and city flags, organizational flags, personal flag.
  • The U.S. flag, when displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
  • If one flag is at half-staff in mourning, other flags flown with it should be at half-staff. First raise the flags to their peak, then lower to half-staff. The U.S. flag is raised first and lowered last.
  • A salute (hand over heart for those not in uniform) should be rendered when the flag is raised, lowered, or carried by on parade; when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited; and when the national anthem is played (unless the flag is not present).
  • If the flag is displayed at night, it should be illuminated.
  • When a flag is no longer of dignified appearance and cannot be repaired, it should be destroyed in a dignified way (burned or sealed in a bag or box before being sent out for trash collection).
  • In a public gathering (lecture hall, church, etc.), the U.S. flag should be to the right of the speakers or on the wall behind them.
  • The U.S. flag should be in the center of a group of flags only when:
    1. the center pole is taller than the others or
    2. when a fan-like arrangement makes the center pole higher than the others.
  • It is not illegal or improper to fly any flag (state, ethnic group, organization, etc.) alone, but it is always preferable to display the U.S. flag at the same time.
  1. Bring the striped half up over the blue field.
  2. Then fold it in half again.
  3. Bring the lower striped corner to the upper edge forming a triangle.
  4. Then fold the upper point in to form another triangle. Continue until the entire length of the flag is folded.
  5. When you get near the end - nothing but the blue field showing - tuck the last bit into the other folds to secure it.
  • New Year's Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday
  • Lincoln's Birthday or President's Day
  • Memorial Day (on Memorial Day, half staff until noon)
  • Flag Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran's Day
  • Election Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • State Holidays
  • All Patriotic Occasions!
  • The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
  • The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
  • The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
  • The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for 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 stand, 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.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

"Old Glory." This famous name was coined by Captain Stephen Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig CHARLES DOGGETT - and this one would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the BOUNTY - some friends presented him with a beautiful flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed "Old Glory!"

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Reverend Francis Bellamy for use at the dedication of the World's Fair Grounds in Chicago on October 21, 1892. The wording was slightly altered in 1923 and 1924 by the First and Second National Flag Conferences. It was officially designated as the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag by Congress in 1945. The words "under God" were added in 1954 in a law signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    POW/MIA Flag Protocol
  • The accepted protocol for flying the POW/MIA flag is:
  • Single Pole - The POW/MIA flag is directly below the American colors and above the State Flag.
  • Two Poles - The POW/MIA flag is flown on the pole with the American Flag directly below the American flag. The State flag is displayed on the second pole.
  • Three Poles - The POW/MIA flag is placed on the pole to the immediate left of the American flag. The State flag is displayed to the left of the POW/MIA flag.
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