How to Properly Fold, Display, and Dispose of the American Flag

How to Properly Fold, Display, and Dispose of the American Flag


Illustration for article titled How to Properly Fold, Display, and Dispose of the American Flag

Photo: Christopher bender (Shutterstock)

With plenty of American flags proudly displayed today for Memorial Day, it’s a good time to take a look at how to properly display, store, and dispose of Old Glory. For all the rules and regulations, we’ll turn to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for guidance. Here’s what to know.

How to display the American flag

It’s not simply a matter of hanging the flag from a window, and calling it a day. Here are the rules for displaying it:

  • On same staff: U.S. flag at peak, above any other flag.
  • Grouped: U.S. flag goes to its own right. Flags of other nations are flown at same height.
  • On speaker’s platform: When displayed with a speaker’s platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff it is on the speaker’s right.
  • Decoration: Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.
  • Half staff: On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.

Other rules for displaying and transferring the flag

  • Do not let the flag touch the ground.
  • Do not fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency.
  • Do not carry the flag flat, or carry things in it.
  • Do not use the flag as clothing.
  • Do not store the flag where it can get dirty.
  • Do not use it as a cover.
  • Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free.
  • Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.

How to properly fold an American flag

The VFW website has pictures, if you’re more of a visual learner, but their instructions are as follows:

  1. Fold the lower striped section of the flag over the blue field.
  2. Folded edge is then folded over to meet the open edge.
  3. A triangular fold is then started by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to the open edge.
  4. Outer point is then turned inward parallel with the open edge to form a second triangle.
  5. Triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in the triangular shape with only the blue field visible.

How to dispose of an American flag

If you’re unsure about how or when to dispose of a flag, you can always contact your local VFW Post for more information. But here are the basic instructions:

  1. The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
  2. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
  3. Place the flag on the fire.
  4. The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
  5. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
  1. Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.



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