How to fold, display and dispose of the American flag correctly

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

Photo: Christophe bender (Shutterstock)

With many American flags proudly displayed today for Memorial Day, now is a good time to take a look at how to properly display, store, and dispose of Old Glory. For all rules and regulations we will turn to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for advice. Here is what you need to know.

How to display the American flag

It’s not just about hanging the flag on a window and calling it a day. Here are the rules for displaying it:

  • On the same staff: American flag at the top, above any other flag.
  • Regroup : The American flag goes on its own. The flags of other nations fly at the same height.
  • On the speaker’s platform: When displayed with a speaker platform, it should be above and behind the speaker. If it is mounted on a staff, it is to the right of the speaker.
  • Decoration: Never use the flag for decoration. Use streamers with blue on top, then white, then red.
  • Half of the staff: On special days, the flag may be hoisted at half mast. On Remembrance Day, it flies at half mast until noon, then gets up.

Other rules for displaying and transferring the flag

  • Do not let the flag touch the ground.
  • Do not hoist the flag upside down except in an emergency.
  • Do not carry the flag flat or carry objects 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 blanket.
  • Do not tie it or tie it up. Always let it fall freely.
  • Do not draw on the flag or mark it in any way.

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 bottom striped section of the flag over the blue field.
  2. The folded edge is then folded back to meet the open edge.
  3. A triangular fold is then initiated by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to the open edge.
  4. The outer point is then turned inward parallel to the open edge to form a second triangle.
  5. The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded into a triangular shape with only the blue field visible.

How to get rid of an American flag

If you don’t know how or when to get rid of a flag, you can always contact your local VFW station for more information. But here are the basic instructions:

  1. The flag should be folded in its usual way.
  2. It is important that the fire is large enough and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete combustion of the flag.
  3. Place the flag on the fire.
  4. The person (s) may come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and have a brief period of silent reflection.
  5. Once the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely put out and the ashes buried.
  1. Please ensure you comply with local / state fire prevention codes or ordinances.


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