How to Fold an American Flag for Your Display Case

Flag folding has multiple benefits, from keeping the U.S. flag safe from damage to displaying it for memorial or honorary purposes. While it may seem simple, there is flag etiquette you must follow to ensure it is folded in the proper way. While you may not fold the national flag every day, understanding the process is essential for anyone who proudly flies the stars and stripes. While there are no set rules laid out in the United States flag code for flag folding, let’s take a look at the generally accepted step-by-step process used within the armed forces and during any official flag folding ceremony. 

How To Fold An American Flag 

Step 1 

Holding the by the edge of the flag and keeping it straight, make the first fold lengthwise one time. 

Step 2

Make the second fold lengthwise, meeting the open edge while ensuring the blue field with the union of stars remains in full view, outwards. 

Step 3

It is now time to begin the triangular fold by bringing the folded edge of the striped corner up to the open edge. 

Step 4

Form a second triangle by turning the top outer point which is parallel to the open edge, inward. 

Step 5

Continue these triangular folds the length of the flag until you reach the blue field. There will be a slight excess remaining. 

Step 6

Tuck the excess material into the final triangle fold, creating a three-corner triangle shape, also called a cocked hat. 

When complete, there will be a total of thirteen folds, with each fold symbolizing a different aspect of American life. For more information on the deeply symbolic nature of the folded flag, check out our article, “Why we fold the flag 13 times.” 

When Should You Fold The American Flag  

There are many appropriate times when the flag of the United States of America is folded. Here are a few of the most common. 


While it is common to see the American flag flying high atop a flagpole during national holidays, there are also times when it is taken down and folded to show respect and honor. Often this is done at a flag folding ceremony by an honor guard. Popular holidays where this may occur include: 

  • Memorial Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Armed Forces Day 

In Memoriam  

When a loved one who served in any branch of the armed forces, including the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard, dies, it is customary to present the surviving family members with a folded flag to signify their selfless dedication to service. These flags are often placed inside a display case and set in a place of honor to remember their bravery and sacrifice. 

Those who are next-of-kin to a recently deceased veteran can request a free flag from the Department of Veterans of Affairs. Family members who don’t meet that criteria can purchase a flag from a reputable flag retailer like 

Flag display cases typically measure 26 x 12x12.5in and are tailored to house flags of a specific dimension: 5 x 9.5ft. When selecting the right material for your flag display case, we recommend cotton. Cotton not only exudes a traditional and timeless appearance but also possesses the superior ability to hold the folded shape beautifully, creating a dignified and classic flag display in tribute to your loved one. 

Take the first step in this heartfelt journey by ordering your 5 x 9.5ft cotton American Casket flag from today. It's a gesture that will forever honor the memory of your cherished veteran. 

At The End Of The Day  

While it is acceptable to fly the U.S. flag at night with spotlight illumination, many government and civilian facilities choose to remove it and raise it again at first light. This is commonly done within the: 

  • Armed Forces
  • VFW
  • Boy Scouts
  • American Legion 

Commonly Asked Questions  

Is there a special name for when the Armed Forces lower the flag at night?  

Yes, this action is called the Ceremony of Retreat. Once folded, the flag is kept under watch, a tribute used to honor the nation’s dead. 

Why is the folded flag called a cocked hat?  

Once folded, the flag gains the appearance of a cocked hat which is a reminder of the brave soldiers that served under General George Washington and the sailors that served under Captain John Paul. These men helped pave the way for the protection of the freedoms we hold dear today. 

What portion of the flag symbolizes U.S. veterans?  

The blue canton, which houses the field of stars, represents the men and women veterans who served our country in uniform. 

Are there specific flags used by the government?  

Yes, there are government-specified flags that meet official U.S. specifications for use in all government facilities. Unlike civilian flags, these ensigns are crafted in accordance with U.S. Code, Title 4. Depending on where your loved one is buried, you may need to purchase a specific type of flag known as the GSpec flag. The GSpec flag comes in government-specified dimension. If you plan to give your loved one an official military funeral, please check with your funeral director to learn which flag you must purchase. Certain ceremonies, such as Arlington National Cemetery, have very specific requirements on which flag you must use. You can purchase official GSpec casket flags from 

Is there an official script that is read during flag-folding ceremonies?  

There is no official script that is read during flag-folding ceremonies. However, there is a commonly accepted unofficial passage that is used, especially within the Air Force. 

Let Our Flag Expert Answer Any Questions You May Have!

When it comes to honoring our country, nothing beats flying the American Flag. Watching the stars and stripes blowing gracefully in the wind stirs a sense of pride in all Americans. is proud to produce the highest quality American-made flags and accessories crafted with pride by expert flag makers. With over 20 years in the business, we use premium, weather-resistant materials that maintain their beauty and withstand the test of time. As members of the NFIDA, FMAA, and the BBB, we take our customer’s privacy seriously, maintaining stringent security standards that keep your information safe. Our site has been featured in over 1000 high-profile publications, including Romantic Homes and Real Simple Magazine.

At, it is our mission to give back to the community, which is why we are active in local, regional, and national charitable organizations, sponsoring events, providing financial assistance, and donating flags. As a woman-owned company, it is our goal to provide our customers with unmatched customer service and superior products that bring honor to our great nation. For more information or with any questions, please contact us