The Meaning behind Traditional Flag Folding

flag folding

There are many names for the American flag: Old Glory; The Stars and Stripes; The Red, White, and Blue; and The Star-Spangled Banner to name a few. The original 13-star version of the flag was first unveiled on June 14, 1777, and that is why June 14 is known as Flag Day. And in case you were wondering, our current 50-star flag has flown since July 4, 1960.

At some point in time, whether in person or witnessed on television or in film, you probably saw the folding of the flag. As part of the Chapters Health Valor Program, flag-folding plays a large role during an Honor Walk.

The Art of Flag Folding

Have you ever noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the flag? The flag is folded exactly 13 times in remembrance of the original 13 colonies. But did you know there is a specific meaning to each fold?

Here is what each fold of the flag means:

  • The first fold symbolizes life.
  • The second fold represents a belief in eternal life.
  • The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans who gave their lives in defense of the country in order to help attain peace throughout the world.
  • The fourth fold is in recognition of the nature of the country’s citizens to trust in God.
  • The fifth fold is a tribute to the United States. According to Stephen Decatur, S. Naval Commander during the American Revolution and War of 1812, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
  • The sixth fold symbolizes where people’s hearts lie in keeping with the words of our pledge of 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.
  • The seventh fold pays tribute to the armed forces. After all, through our armed forces, the United States is protected against all enemies.
  • The eighth fold is a tribute to those who died, and as Psalm 23 states, “entered into the valley of the shadow of death.”
  • The ninth fold honors womanhood.
  • The 10th fold is a tribute to fathers.
  • The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in Judaism, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the eyes of Christians, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
  • The 13th and last fold reminds us that when the flag is completely folded, in the uppermost corned signify our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Watch this video demonstrating how the flag is folded:

Additionally, when the flag is completely folded and tucked in, the resulting shape appears like a tricorne hat and represents the soldiers who served under General George Washington, the sailors and marines who served under Naval Commander John Paul Jones and the many who have followed them in order to preserve the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today. So in the future when you see a flag folded, you will hopefully now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the tradition.

Chapters Health System is committed to serving the needs of its patients, families, caregivers, health providers, partners and communities.

For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health  and HospiceHelp24® team at 1.866.204.8611 or Contact Us.


filed under: Patients

Posted on June 14, 2021 By Phoebe Ochman Phoebe Ochman, director of corporate communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

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