Video: How to fold the American Flag
To show respect, citizens of the United States of America fold the flag a special way, outlined below.
- Hold the flag waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.
- Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars (The Union), holding the bottom and top edges securely.
- Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside.
- Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open (top) edge of the flag.
- Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle.
- Continue the triangular folding for the entire flag.
- When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.
- Always display the flag with the blue union field up. Never display the flag upside down, except as a distress signal.
- Always carry the flag aloft and free. Never carry it horizontally.
- Always dispose of a flag properly, preferably by burning it.
- 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 if flown at the same height.
- Other national flags should not be smaller nor flown lower than the American flag 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.
- If one flag is at half-staff in morning, 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.
- In a public gathering (lecture hall, church, etc.), the U.S. flag should be to the right of the speakers when on the stage or podium, to the right of the audience when not on the podium or on the wall behind speaker.
- Do not display the flag if it is raining, or if there is a thunderstorm, etc.
- Watch how the military, police, fire department, or Boy Scouts fold the flag. They have all been trained to fold it properly.
- Always keep the flag clean and safe. Never let it become torn, soiled or damaged.
- Always treat the flag with respect.
- Never use it for advertising purposes.
- Never embroider it on household items or pieces of clothing.
- Never use it as part of a costume or athletic uniform. However, it is proper to attach a flag patch to the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers and members of other patriotic organizations, provided the patch is properly affixed.
- Do not let the flag touch the ground.
How to Dispose of a Damaged American Flag
The United States Flag Code states: "The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferable by burning."
- Find a safe location, away from any buildings or trees.
- Clear away any flammable debris.
- Build a fire, such as a campfire or bonfire. Wait for the fire to reach a temperature that is hot enough to ensure a proper burn, but not so intense that it may blow partially burnt flag particles out of the fire.
- Cut the field out of the flag (separate the stars and stripes).
- Place the flag on top of the fire with the field on top of the rest of the flag, which should be respectfully folded, and watch to be sure that it is burned safely and completely.
- Allow the fire to burn out, and then exercise proper fire safety protocols.
- Only the US Military, American Legion, and the Boy Scouts of America are official organizations that will take and properly dispose of an American Flag.
* Soak or coat the flag lightly in an accelerant, such as lighter fluid, to ensure a complete burn.
* However, if you are worried the fire alone won't do, some civic organizations will take custody of a worn flag and dispose of the flag properly. Check local organizations for assistance. Always exercise caution when dealing with fire and flammable materials.
Our company is working with the organization American Flag Recycling to change the way American flags are retired. As you probably know American flags used to be made out of cotton. Now American flags are made of synthetic materials like nylon. When you burn a nylon flag creates hazardous gases including formaldehyde and cyanide. It is much better to recycle American flags.