Flag folding procedures and symbols
traditional method of folding the flag is as follows:
(A) Straighten out the flag to full length and fold lengthwise once.
(B) Fold it lengthwise a second
time to meet the open edge, making sure that the union of stars on the
blue field remains outward in full view. (A large flag may have to be
folded lengthwise a third time.)
(C) A triangular fold is then started by bringing the striped corner
of the folded edge to the open edge.
(D) The outer point is then
turned inward, parallel with the open edge, to form a second triangle.
(E) The diagonal or triangular
folding is continued toward the blue union until the end is reached,
with only the blue showing and the form being that of a cocked (three-corner)
Meaning of Flag-Folding Program
The flag-folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on
which our great country was originally founded.
The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing
the stars representing states our veterans served in uniform. The canton
field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted only when draped
as a pall on the casket of a veteran who has served our country honorably
In the U.S. Armed Forces, at the ceremony of retreat, the flag is lowered,
folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night
as a tribute to our nation's honored dead. The next morning it is brought
out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief
in the resurrection of the body.
Symbols for the Folds of the Flag
The first fold of our flag
is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of
our belief in eternal life.
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 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.
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 10th 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 11th 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
The 12th 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 has the appearance
of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under
Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under
Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates
in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and
freedoms we enjoy today.
VA Clarifies Policy on Flag-Folding Recitations
"13-Fold" Ceremony, Other Scripts Approved
To ensure burial services at the 125 national cemeteries operated by
the Department of Veterans Affairs reflect the wishes of veterans and
their families, VA officials have clarified the department's policy
about recitations made while the U.S. flag is folded at the grave site
of a veteran.
"Honoring the burial wishes of veterans is one of the highest commitments
for the men and women of VA," said William F. Tuerk, VA's under
secretary for Memorial Affairs. "A family may request the recitation
of words to accompany the meaningful presentation of the American flag
as we honor the dedication and sacrifice of their loved ones."
Traditional grave site military funeral honors include the silent folding
and presentation of a U.S. flag, three rifle volleys and the playing
The clarification includes the following:
Volunteer honor guards are authorized to read the 13-fold flag recitation
or any comparable script;
Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be
read by the volunteer honor guards; and
Volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect
any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.
Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses and
eligible dependent children can be buried in a national cemetery.
Other burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless
of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery,
include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government
headstone or marker.