Editor’s note: This is the Department of Defense’s information on how to properly fold and present the U.S. flag during a military funeral or memorial service.
A United States flag drapes the casket of deceased veterans to honor the memory of their service to the country. The ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag is a moving tribute of lasting import to the veteran’s family.
The flag is placed on a closed casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.
After taps is played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape. A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. The folded flag is emblematic of the tri-cornered hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, no red or white stripe is to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars.
It is then presented as a keepsake to the next of kin or an appropriate family member.
The Flag Presentation Protocol is as follows:
Stand facing the flag recipient and hold the folded flag waist high with the straight edge facing the recipient.
Lean toward the flag recipient and solemnly present the flag to the recipient.
Effective April 17, 2012, the Department of Defense standardized the flag presentation verbiage for military funeral honors ceremonies. The following verbiage will be used when presenting the American flag during the funeral service:
‘On behalf of the President of the United States, (the United States Army; the United States Marine Corps; the United States Navy; or the United States Air Force), and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.’
The United States Coast Guard is invited to use the same verbiage.