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Flag etiquette is an important part of American tradition that ensures that Stars and Stripes are treated with the dignity they deserve. Established by Congress in 1942, the official American flag code created guidelines for the care and display of the flag. Although it does not describe an official method for folding the flag, the rules state that you should never store a flag so that it can be torn, soiled or damaged. You should also never let the flag touch anything below it, like the ground or the ground.
Over time, a triangular shape has become the traditional way of folding the flag and storing it securely. According to the American Legion, the exact origin of this specific procedure is unknown, but it can be traced back to the Gold Star Mothers of America or the United States Air Force Academy.
You can fly Old Glory any day of the year, but you may want to put away a particularly large flag after displaying it on Memorial Day. This method will keep your flag spotless until July 4 or until the next major holiday. If you are alone, first place the flag on a table face up, smoothing out the wrinkles. If not, find a partner and stand face to face with the short ends, holding the flag stretched and parallel to the ground. Here’s what to do next:
How to fold an American flag
- Fold the striped bottom portion of the flag over the blue field.
- Fold over the folded bottom edge to meet the top edge.
- Begin a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner from the folded edge to the top edge.
- Turn the outside point inward, parallel to the top edge, to form a second triangle.
- Continue until the last folds ensure that only the Union (the blue part with white stars) is visible and that the open edges are folded.
See exactly how to fold the flag
- In the first two steps, you basically fold the flag in four lengthwise.
- If you fold the flag with a partner, the person at the striped end must make all the triangular folds while the person at the end of the Union keeps the flag stretched.
The flag label dictates your flag only between sunrise and sunset unless it is properly lit. You must also remove Old Glory in case of bad weather, unless it is an all-season flag made of a non-absorbent material such as nylon. Only fly good American flags, but as long as you follow these guidelines, your Stars and Stripes will last for years.
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