Flag Care, Flag Etiquette, Flag Trivia

Below, you’ll find a collection of information for flag case, flag etiquette, and some flag trivia. We hope you’ll find this information useful and helpful to keep your American flag looking and flying its best.

The American flag is the cherished symbol of the United States. The American flag symbolizes the strength, unity and determination of the American people to live up to the values enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence — among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The American flag also symbolizes the courage, service and sacrifice that millions of servicemen and women have given to the United States for well over 200 years. We are eternally grateful for all that our veterans have given on behalf of our nation.

It’s important for all American flags to be displayed in a dignified manner that befits the symbol of our country. The following flag care and flag etiquette tips will help you make sure your American flag flies long, high and proud for all to see. Alternatively, you can also permanently display a cherished American flag in a flag case or shadow box.

Flag Flying Etiquette

1. Display your flag from sunrise to sunset. You can also fly it at night if you illuminate it.

2. There are dozens of flag days, but as a citizen, you may display your flag any day you wish.

3. Hoist your flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously.

4. Put it to the right or above other flags on display.

5. Don’t let it touch the ground.

Read all the rules.

How to Fold Your Flag into a Triangle

By folding your flag in the following manner, the tri-cornered hats worn by the colonial soldiers during the War of Independence are symbolically recalled.

Folding the flag

Fold the flag in half width-wise twice. Fold up a triangle, starting at the striped end … and repeat … until only the end of the union is exposed. Then fold down the square into a triangle and tuck inside the folds.

How to Fold a Flag into a Triangle — Easy Fold False Fold Technique

This is the easiest way to fold a flag. A FALSE FOLDED FLAG has many benefits. It enables you to fold a smaller flag in such a way as to fit into a case designed for a larger flag, if necessary. (But keep in mind that a larger flag will never be able to fit into a case designed for a smaller flag.) This technique also allows you to easily fold a flag in such a way as to create a prefect star pattern. It can also be easier to fold a flag using this technique than the traditional flag folding technique detailed previously.

The 3ft x 5ft flag, when false folded and placed in a 3X5 flag case will show six (6) stars.  The 3ft x 5ft flag, when false folded and placed in the large 5X9.5 flag case, will show eighteen (18) stars.  The 4ft x 6ft flag, when false folded and placed in a 5X9.5 flag case, will show approximately 10 stars.  The 5ft x 8ft and the 5ft x 9-1/2 ft flags when false folded will show six (6) stars.

Here is how to perform a false fold:

(1)  Cut a piece of matte board or cardboard in a triangle approximately 1/8th  inch smaller than the inside cavity of the flag case.

(2)  Slide the matte board under the flag to the center of the star pattern.  Align the peak of the triangle approximately ¾ inch above the top point of a star.

(3)   Make sure the bottom of the triangle matte board is level with the stars on the bottom row.

(4)  Turn the flag with the matte board over and place it in the cavity of the flag case.  Fold the remainder of the flag into the flag case and replace the back of the case.


Medal Placement

To safely and securely adhere medals and other mementos into your flag case, we recommend using double-sided adhesive foam disks or tape. These can be purchased quite inexpensively at any arts & crafts store. If needed, the velvet backing can be cleaned of any dust using a lint roller or tape roller, rolled tape with sticky side out, etc.

Flag Care

Here’s how to keep your flags looking their best.

1. Protect your flag from exposure to storms, snow or abnormally high winds, as these adverse conditions can shorten its life. If your flag should become wet, let it dry completely by spreading it out. Never roll or fold your flag when it is wet or damp as this can also damage the fabric.

2. Clean your flag regularly to keep the fabric looking new. Your flag can be hand-washed with warm water and mild soap, then thoroughly rinsed and spread out to air dry. Do not let the flag stand in the wash water for extended periods of time or some color transfer may occur from the red stripes to the white stripes.

3. Determining where to hang your flag is also important. Do not fly the flag where it will come in contact with tree limbs, buildings or cables. When the flag is flying, hitting such an object could cause a tear in the material. Even a small tear could result in the flag becoming tattered. Inspecting your flag for any small tears or signs of wear can prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem. If you notice a tear or wear at the end of the flag, trim and re-hem the end, and your flag will be ready to fly again.

Additionally, you may choose to treat your flags with a fabric protection product like 303 Fabric Guard®, which waterproofs fabric and protects it from UV rays, mildew and soiling.

Flag Poles

For 3X5 flags, consider flag poles of 15-20 feet.

For 5X8 & 5X9.5, flags, consider flag poles of 20-25 feet.

Special Flag-Flying Days

The flag should be displayed on all days, especially:


New Year’s Day, January 1


Inauguration Day, January 20


Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, third Monday in January


Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12


Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February


Army Day, April 6


Easter Sunday (variable)


Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May


Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May


Memorial Day (fly flag half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May


Flag Day, June 14


Independence Day, July 4


Labor Day, first Monday in September


Constitution Day, September 17


Columbus Day, second Monday in October


Navy Day, October 27


Veterans Day, November 11


Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November


Christmas Day, December 25


and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States


the birthdays of States (date of admission)


and on State holidays

How & When to Dispose of an American Flag

When a flag becomes tattered, soiled or faded, it should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. You can use the suggested method of disposal outlined below, or tailor the ceremony to suit individual tastes. You can also contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion Post, as these organizations frequently offer flag retirement ceremonies.

1.  The Flag should be folded in its customary manner.

2.  It is important that the fire be sizeable 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.

6.  Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

Flying Flags at Half-Staff


The Flag is flown at half-staff on Memorial Day till noon, then raised to full-staff.


The Flag is also flown at half-staff by special order of the president or State governors.


At the end of the day, the flag should again be raised to the peak before being lowered.

How to Display Your Flag

It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness. ·

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union (or blue field) should be to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union to the left of the observer in the street. ·

No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea…for personnel of the Navy…when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants, of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. ·

When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.

The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag. ·

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs. (Only exception to * Note below)

When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

Churches, Auditoriums: When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergy man’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or the right of the audience.

U.S. Air Force Academy Flag-Folding Ceremony

The following flag-folding ceremony, as described by the Uniformed Services, can be a dramatic and uplifting way to honor the flag on special days, like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, and can also be used in retirement ceremonies.

A typical sequence of the reading proceeds as follows:

(Begin reading as Honor Guard or Flag Detail is coming forward.)

“The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.”

“In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.”

(Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to unravel and fold the flag into a quarter fold–resume reading when Honor Guard is standing ready.)

“The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.”

“The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.”

“The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.”

“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 times of war for His divine guidance.”

“The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, ‘Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.'”

“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.”

“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 be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.”

“The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to 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.”

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

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

“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.”

“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 Ghost.”

“When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, ‘In God we Trust.'”

(Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to inspect the flag–after the inspection, resume reading.)

“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 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.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Why is a flag display case sometimes called a “shadow box”?

According to some accounts of naval history and tradition, when a sailor retires and is departing the ship for the last time, it’s considered bad luck for the sailor’s shadow to touch land before he/she does. Thus, the sailor’s shipmates would construct a sturdy box, hand-crafted of the finest materials, in which to display mementos of the sailor’s accomplishments — thereby symbolically creating a “shadow” of the sailor. The box safely contains the sailor’s “shadow” until he/she is safely ashore, at which time the shadow box can be given to the sailor in a presentation ceremony.

“On behalf of your fellow shipmates, we present you with this shadow box. Within the shadow box lie a sailor’s most honored and cherished possessions, including the flag of the United States of America, representing a lifetime of valiant and faithful service.”

Where is the US flag flown 24 hours a day?

By Executive Order, the flag flies 24 hours a day at the following locations:


The Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


The White House, Washington, D.C.


U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.


Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.


Iwo Jima Memorial to U.S. Marines, Arlington, Virginia


Battleground in Lexington, MA (site of first shots in the Revolutionary War)


Winter encampment cabins, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania


Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland (a flag flying over Fort McHenry after a battle during the War of 1812 provided the inspiration for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”)


The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, Maryland (site where the famed flag over Fort McHenry was sewn)


Jenny Wade House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed at the battle of Gettysburg)


U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii


All custom points and points of entry into the United States

Naturally, though while not under Executive Order, an American flag flies 24 hours a day on the surface of the Moon.

]Lore of the Shadow Box

According to some accounts of naval history and tradition, when a sailor retires and is departing the ship for the last time, it’s considered bad luck for the sailor’s shadow to touch land before he/she does. Thus, the sailor’s shipmates would construct a sturdy box, hand-crafted of the finest materials, in which to display mementos of the sailor’s accomplishments — thereby symbolically creating a “shadow” of the sailor. The box safely contains the sailor’s “shadow” until he/she is safely ashore, at which time the shadow box can be given to the sailor in a presentation ceremony.

Historically, when a sailor would join a ship’s crew, he would join that ship for his entire career. During the sailor’s voyages to ports of call around the world, he would collect many trinkets, souvenirs, and reminders of his travels. Naturally, as space aboard ship was at a premium, these items tended to be small. When the sailor piped ashore for the last time, his shipmates saw to it that a special ceremonial box was constructed for him. The box would hold all the possessions that had been collected during those many voyages, a and would simultaneously symbolize the sailor’s career and time aboard ship.

Ideally, a shadow box serves not only as a reminder of achievements and accomplishments, but also as a summation, a culmination, of a career. A shadow box should enable a stranger glancing at its contents to gain a substantial understanding of the owner’s past service and achievements.

Shadow Box Presentation

Our Shadow Boxes are born of an ancient naval tradition that’s still practiced today, both in the militaries of the world and throughout civilian life. The Shadow Box is laden with items that represent the recipient’s service or accomplishments or achievements.

All military retirees and honorees, from E-5 to O-10, deserve a quality shadow box. Leadership should ensure that this tradition is followed, fostered, and nourished, and that retirees and distinguished individuals receive a shadow box.

The shadow box is typically laden with personal items that depict advancement and achievements. These may include personal awards, medals, duty stations, insignia, rating badges and uniform devices that indicate progression through various military ranks. A boatswain’s whistle may even be included as a reminder of both service aboard ship and the ceremony at which the shadow box was presented. Boatswain’s whistles are often used at various ceremonies, such as naval retirements.

The national flag is placed inside the shadow box to symbolize the country that has benefited from the faithful service of the recipient of the shadow box.

Naval presentation of a shadow box can be accompanied with the following speech. Naturally, it can be modified as circumstances dictate.

“On behalf of your fellow shipmates, we present you with this shadow box. Within the shadow box lie a sailor’s most honored and cherished possessions, including the flag of the United States of America, representing a lifetime of valiant and faithful service.”