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Saluting the American flag is about more than putting our hands to our hearts.
Showing respect for our nation’s greatest symbol also means handling it with care — and there’s a method of doing so appropriately when it comes to procedures such as folding the flag.
National Flag Foundation board member and historic American flag collector Peter Kiem emphasized the importance of respecting the flag in an interview with Fox News Digital.
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“It’s the fabric of our nation,” he said. “It’s what we’re about.”
The author of “A Grand Old Flag,” Kiem explained that showing courtesy means following flag code, as well as keeping the flag off the ground, being careful not to crumple it during storage and folding it to procedure.
Allegiance Flag Supply, an all-American flag producer based in Charleston, South Carolina, knows a thing or two about flag folding.
Co-founders Max Berry, Katie Lyon and Wes Lyon joined “Fox & Friends Weekend” recently to demonstrate how to fold the flag properly.
Follow along with their simple steps!
1. Grab a partner
You’ll want four hands to do this correctly.
Stand opposite your partner, holding the flag at its corners with one person on the hoist end.
2. Start folding
Fold the flag in half lengthwise, so that the blue starfield is facing the ground.
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Fold the flag once more longways.
Be sure the fabric is flat and tight.
3. Start rolling into triangles
Take the bottom left corner of the flag and fold it over to meet the right edge, creating a triangle.
Keep rolling triangles from right to left, all the way to the top of the flag.
The goal is to cover the entire red-and-white-striped surface of the flag — so some adjusting of the fabric may be necessary to keep the folding tight.
Traditionally, the American flag should be folded a total of 13 times, Kiem explained, which symbolizes America’s beginnings with the 13 original colonies.
“It’s a symbol of our history,” he said. “It’s a symbol of where we started from.”
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4. Tuck the tail
Once your flag has been rolled into a firm triangle, a small bit of the end of the flag will be sticking out.
Take that remaining fabric and tuck it into the starfield pocket. Only blue and white should be left behind.
And there you have it — a perfectly folded American flag.
The shape of the final product should resemble the cocked, tricorn military hat of the soldiers who served under then-Gen. George Washington, as The American Legion mentions on its website.
Even though the origin for this flag-folding procedure is unknown, many say it was Gold Star mothers who began the tradition — while others credit an Air Force chaplain stationed at the United States Air Force Academy with the process.
Continuing courteous care of the flag
Respecting the American flag also includes the proper disposal and cleaning of the flag.
American flags should never be tossed into the garbage.
For flags that may be torn up, frayed or unfit for display, Allegiance Flag Supply suggested a few ways to respectfully dispose of it, including burning or burying the flag after folding it one last time.
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Worn flags can also be donated to organizations such as a local American Legion, a Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts chapter, or a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
Allegiance Flag Supply suggests washing flags in cool water with mild soap or laundry detergent and hanging to dry.
Some dry cleaners across the U.S. will clean American flags free of charge, according to the company website.
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Allegiance Flag Supply produces durable, high-quality flags that are sourced with American materials and made in the USA.