As an Army and Navy custom, the flag is lowered daily at the last note of retreat. Special care should be taken that no part of the flag touches the ground. The Flag is then carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war for Independence. In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, as the light of day vanishes into the darkness of night.
This custom of special folding is reserved for the United States Flag alone.
To properly fold the Flag, begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.
Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely.
Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside.
Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the
open (top) edge of the flag.
Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle.
The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner. Only one person does this triangular folding; your partner ceremoniously and patiently holds the other end (ensuring that it doesn't touch the floor!).
All you've got left is the final fold--the tricky turn that some argue is at the crux of the whole operation. Instead of you folding the thick triangle of folded flag fabric over the last remaining blue square, your partner--who has waited for you so patiently--finally gets to do some creasing. The person on the union end of the flag will take the corner on the open leg and fold it down along the edge of the other leg to form a triangle. He or she then tucks the remaining blue tab under the folds of the thick triangle until the flag is a neat triangle and can't easily unravel. When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.
Store the flag in a safe place, and when you want to raise it or use it again, unfold it using these steps in the opposite direction. Now, sit back and enjoy the fireworks!
Here is a typical sequence of the reading:
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.
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
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.
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Rev. Steve Anderson
231 E. Alessandro Blvd., Suite A-210
Riverside, CA 92508