How to Honor and Care for the American Flag

May 10, 20195/10/2019


Americans have a strong connection to our flag. That’s why we take seriously things like displaying the flag, folding the flag and even discarding the flag.

Showing respect for the flag, and recognizing the service of those who’ve fought for it, is something WoodmenLife holds dear. We began our Patriotic Program in 1947, presenting American flags to community and non-profit organizations across the country. In 2018, we presented more than 250,000 flags. To date, we have presented more than 3.5 million flags.


Show Respect for the Flag


  • Raise and lower the flag by hand
  • Hoist the flag briskly and lower it slowly but ceremoniously
  • Display the flag with the blue union field up
  • Hold the flag carefully
  • Keep the flag clean and safe


  • Raise the flag when furled
  • Let it touch anything beneath it – the ground, floor, water, or merchandise
  • Dip the flag, even slightly, to any person or thing
  • Attach or place anything on the flag, including marks, insignia, words, letters, figures, pictures, or drawings
  • Display it upside down, except as a distress signal
  • Let it become torn, soiled or damaged


How to Fold a Flag

When a flag isn’t being displayed, there’s a right way to prepare it for storage. Here are some instructions:

  1. Two people face each other, each holding one end of the flag at waist height.
  2. Stretch it horizontally and fold in half lengthwise.
  3. Fold the flag in half lengthwise again. The blue union field should be on the outside with the edges held together.
  4. The person at the striped end makes a triangular fold by bringing the corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
  5. That person folds in triangles until the length of the flag is completely folded, and the end is tucked in.

When the process is complete, only the blue union field is visible.


How to Properly Dispose of a Flag

When a cotton or natural fiber flag is no longer fit for display as an emblem, through wear or damage, destroy it privately in a dignified manner, preferably by burning it. Dispose of flags made of nylon and other synthetic materials with the American Flags Express Inc. recycling service. A donation is required to cover the recycling cost. For more information, or call 1-262-783-4800, ext. 11.

To arrange a proper flag retirement ceremony, contact organizations like WoodmenLife, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Boy Scouts of America.


So remember, when you display the flag, handle it properly, fold it correctly and treat it with respect.


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We’ve been helping to protect the financial future of families like yours, making a difference in hometowns across America and honoring our country since 1890. As a not-for-profit life insurance company, we put money back into the community. We’re here when you need us most.

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