Ever wonder why the American flag is folded into a triangle? Consisting of 13 stripes and 50 stars, the American flag is a symbol of freedom, unity, and patriotism. You can find it displayed in front of countless homes, businesses and government buildings throughout the United States. When prepared for storage, however, the American flag is often folded into a triangle.
It’s a military custom for the American flag to be folded into a triangle. The U.S. Flag Code doesn’t explicitly require the American flag to be folded into a triangle. While the U.S. Flag Code does contain rules regarding how the American flag is displayed and retired, it doesn’t mention the way in which the American flag should be folded. Instead, there’s a longstanding tradition in the U.S. military in which the American flag is folded into a triangle.
The Ceremony of Retreat
According to the American Legion, the American flag is folded into a triangle during the ceremony retreat. The ceremony of retreat occurs at the end of the duty day. It’s designed to show respect to the American flag as well as the soldiers, sailors and other active-duty personnel who stand to protect it.
During the ceremony of retreat, the American flag is lowered from its flagpole. It’s then folded into a triangle and kept under watch until the following day. On the following day, the American flag is returned to its flagpole before the cycle repeats at the end of the day.
The 13 Folds
To achieve a triangular shape, the American flag is folded 13 times. Each of these folds is symbolic.
The first fold symbolizes life. The second fold symbolizes the belief in eternal life. The third fold symbolizes fallen veterans. The fourth fold symbolizes trust in a higher power. The fifth fold symbolizes honor and acknowledgment of our country. The sixth fold symbolizes the heart. The seventh fold symbolizes the U.S. Armed Forces. The eighth fold symbolizes those who enter the valley of the shadow of death. The ninth fold symbolizes womanhood. The tenth fold symbolizes fatherhood. The 11th fold symbolizes the seal of King David and King Solomon. The 12th fold symbolizes eternity. And the 13th fold symbolizes the national motto.
The American flag is folded into a triangle as part of military tradition. After being lowered from its flagpole, the American flag is folded 13 times. The final, 13th fold results in the shape of a triangle.
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