United States Marine Corps History and Information

Learn about the Traditions and Customs of the USMC

How to Fold the US Flag

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Explanation of the Folding of the U.S. Flag!

The US Flag
I hope you take the time to understand what the flag draped coffin really means.

Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many
survivors .

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the
numbers in the year 1776?

Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly
folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was
to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the
ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain
peace throughout the world

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in
God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine

How to fold the flag



The 5th fold is a tribute to the 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 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge
allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it
stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces
that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they
be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.

The 8th 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.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through
their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and
women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and
daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King
Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians
eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost
reminding them of their nations 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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms they
enjoy today.

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.

In the future, you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.

Click the link below for an illustration of how to properly fold the US Flag.

The US Flag Code

The United States Code dictates how the U.S. flag should be treated and displayed. Certain parts of the code were re-organized in 1998; parts of the section formerly known as Title 36, Chapter 10 have been moved to Title 4 or elsewhere in Title 36. If you are wondering where a particular section went, try searching the Cornell Legal Information Institute’s site. The Flag Code has been generally consolidated in Title 4, Chapter 1.

Below are excerpts of the important points on respectfully displaying, and displaying respect toward, the U.S. Flag:

  • The flag should be flown only during daylight hours; however, it may be flown at night if properly illuminated.
  • The flag should be hoisted (raised) quickly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • When flying with other flags, the U.S. flag should be to the observer’s left and above or at equal height to the other flags.
  • When flying with the flags of other nations, the U.S. flag should be flown at the same height as the other flag(s.)
  • The U.S. flag should not be used for advertisement; it should not be marked with any words, images or other printings.
  • The flag should not be flown in rain or snow, unless an all-weather flag is used.
  • On occasions when the flag is to be flown at half-staff, the flag should first be raised to the top of the staff, then lowered to the half height position.
  • The flag should not be dipped to anyone or anything.
  • The flag should not be hung so that it touches the ground, or any object beneath it.
  • The flag should not be used as a container or receptacle.

Caring For The US Flag

The life span of a flag is greatly influenced by how it is treated. To maximize a flag’s life span we recommend the following guidelines:

  • High winds can be destructive to any flag. While nylon flags are better suited to windy conditions, do not fly any flag in winds over 50 mph.
  • Make sure your flag is dry before folding and storing. Drip-dry only.
  • Avoid exposing the flags to chemicals or chemical vapors, such as gasoline or petroleum products. If your flag needs cleaning, wash it by hand water. If necessary, use baby shampoo. Parade flags should be dry cleaned.
  • When a flag has become worn or faded beyond restoration, dispose of it respectfully. The traditional method of destruction is by burning– many American Legion or VFW posts will perform this service for you.

This should answer the questions:

How do you properly fold the US Flag?
What is the significance of the folding of the US Flag?
What is the US Flag Code?
What care should I take to increase the life span of my US Flag?


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