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U.S. Flag Etiquette

Francis Scott Key Post 11

Flag Etiquette

When to Display Your Flag

The flag should be displayed, from sunrise to sunset, on all days when the weather permits, especially on:

New Year's Day, January 1.

Inauguration Day.

Martin Luther King's Birthday, Third Monday in January.

Lincoln's Birthday.

Washington's Birthday, February 22.

Easter Sunday.

Mother's Day, Second Sunday in May.

Armed Forces Day, Third Saturday in May.

Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), Last Monday in May.

Flag Day, June 14th.

Independence Day, July 4th.

Labor Day, First Monday in September.

Constitution Day, September 17th.

Columbus Day, October 12th.

Navy Day.

Veterans Day, November 11th.

Thanksgiving Day, Fourth Thursday in November.

Christmas Day, December 25th.

Election Days (various).

Federally observed dates of the above holidays which may be different from the actual dates.

Such days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.

State and Local Holidays.

Folding the Flag

1. Bring the striped half up over the blue field.

2. Then fold it in half again.

3. Bring the lower striped corner to the upper edge forming a triangle.

4. Then fold the upper point in to form another triangle. Continue until the entire length of the flag is folded.

5. When you get near the end - nothing but the blue field showing - tuck the last bit into the other folds to secure it.

Folding U.S. Flag (animated) Image


Have you ever noticed on TV or at military funerals that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times? Each fold of the U.S. flag has an important meaning. We have verified its accuracy at the U.S. Air Force Academy Web site [go to main page, then click on "Information", then on "Flags"].

1. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

2. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

3. The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

4. The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

5. 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."

6. 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.

7. 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 her enemies, whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

8. 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 mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

9. The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

10. The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

11. The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. The twelfth 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 Spirit.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust". After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones. Those who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

POW-MIA Flag Image

POW Flag Protocol

The POW/MIA flag, or Prisoners of War/Missing in Action, has been deemed by the 101st United States Congress to be "the symbol of our nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation."

U.S. Flag Code

1. The United States Flag Code states, "Display of the POW/MIA flag pursuant to this section shall be in a manner designed to ensure visibility to the public."

POW/MIA Recognition Day

2. In 1998, the United States Congress ruled that the POW/MIA flag would fly in the public lobbies of all military buildings, post offices, veterans’ memorials, and defense agencies. These institutions were required to fly the flag on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.

National Flag Precedence

3. The United States Flag Code also states "The POW/MIA flag should be flown beneath the flag of the United States, if displayed on the same pole." Just as with any other state, presidential, or military flag, the United States flag must be flown at the top.

State Precedence

4. The POW/MIA flag should be flown above any state or military flag.

Flag Size

5. The POW/MIA flag should be the same size or smaller than the above adjacent American flag if flown on the same pole. It must be noted the POW/MIA flag is a "symbol of our nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia".

Unlike the flag of the United States, it is not a symbol of our nation and therefore the POW/MIA flag is not to be saluted.


Authority: Title 10, USC 113b, 133(b); DOD Directive 1005.8 dated 31 OCT 1977, certified as current on 21 NOV 2003 until further notice FOR USE WHEN IN PARADE OR INSPECTION FORMATION AND FOR DISPLAY OF FLAGS, SEALS, EMBLEMS, INSIGNIA, ETC.

NOTE: Items 3.1. through 3.5. pertaining to precedence of Cadets and Midshipmen are not shown.

3.6 United States Army.

3.7 United States Marine Corps.

3.8 United States Navy.

3.9 United States Air Force.

3.10 United States Coast Guard.

3.11 Army National Guard of the United States.

3.12 Army Reserve.

3.13 Marine Corps Reserve.

3.14 Naval Reserve.

3.15 Air National Guard of the United States.

3.16 Air Force Reserve.

3.17 Coast Guard Reserve.

3.18 Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order, respectively.

Updated: July 1, 2020

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