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As you have learned if you've been through the previous pages in this exhibit, it is permissible to fly the National Colors 24-hours a day provided that you have an ALL-WEATHER flag, and provided that the flag is lit at night.  Before the invention and availability of electric lighting, however, it was a normal practice to take the flag down at dusk and raise it again the following morning.  Such practice, especially at military posts, gave birth to the tradition of Reveille and eventually TAPS.

When the Flag is lowered at the end of the day, it is carefully folded into a triangle (reminding us of the triangular shapes hats worn by the Revolutionary War patriots), and when properly folded only the blue field of the UNION and its stars can be seen from either side.  This symbolizes the safekeeping of the flag throughout the dark of night.  If you've read about Burial Flags, you also know that the last part of the interment ceremony involves the lifting of the flag from the coffin, and carefully folding it to present it to the family of one who has served their nation.  Whenever the flag is folded, there is a proper procedure for doing so.  Whether the flag is being removed from a flag pole, lifted from a coffin, or otherwise being tucked safely away, the first point to keep in mind is that the FLAG SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE FLOOR OR THE GROUND.

Two people are required to properly fold the flag.  The flag should be held waist-high and horizontally as shown at the right.  Remember that the flag should be aligned so that the UNION (field of blue with the stars) is away from the audience and to their left.   The Flag is then carefully folded in half, lengthwise, with the folded edge towards the audience.  The picture below shows how the two men at right would make the FIRST FOLD.

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When this first fold has been completed, the flag will look like the diagram just below.


The flag is then folded in half, lengthwise once again.  This second fold, as shown by the picture below, results in a QUARTER-FOLD the full length of the flag.  Properly folded, both sides  will look the same, the UNION covering the full left hand side (from the audience view) of the flag, with three full stripes and a small portion of a red stripe (at the top edge) showing.

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The "quarter-folded" flag is held as shown in the next diagram below.


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With the flag held as shown, a series of triangular folds begin, moving from the side with the stripes and folding towards the Union (right to left folds from the audience view).  This is usually the "trickiest" part when you are first learning to fold the flag, but with practice you will find that after the first fold, the rest become quite easy.

The last fold is to tuck the upper-left edge of the Union into the top fold of the triangle.

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When all the folds are completed, the flag should look like the one at left.  It can then be safely stored for the evening, or in the case of a commemorative flag, ceremoniously presented to someone. 

The proper way to store a flag is folded in this manner, in the shape of a triangle with only the blue field and white stars showing.


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If you dropped in on this page from somewhere else, I'm the tour guide for this floor of the Hall of Heroes.   Usually I show up to point out something you might otherwise miss.  If you would like to see the steps in folding the flag again, click on me.  I've got a larger, animated picture of the steps on folding the flag.  (If you have your own website and want to save any of our graphics to use yourself, we invite you to "help yourself".

The process of removing the flag from its pole and folding it for safekeeping through the night is called "RETIRING THE COLORS".   When the Flag is retired with the playing of "TAPS" the flag is folded only after "TAPS" has finished.  For more on the history of "TAPS" you can click on the red button below, before continuing on your tour.

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bn_nav_next.gif (1766 bytes)  Obtaining a Flag Flown over the Capitol

[Flag Day][About the US Code][The Flag Code][Time & Occasions for Flag Display]  
[Position and manner of Flag Display-Outdoors] [Position and manner of Flag Display-Indoors]
[Flying the Flag at Half-Staff][Burial Flags][Showing Respect for the Flag][Flag Ceremonies
[How to Fold the Flag][Obtaining  A Flag Flown over the Capitol][State Flags][Military Flags
[War Mother's Flag][MIA/POW Flag][Other Flags][Flag Specifics][Patriotic Holidays & Observancess ]

History of the United States Flag

Our National Anthem

The Pledge of Allegiance

The American Creed

The Great Seal

Our National Symbol

Our National Flower

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