Here is a brief overview of the history of the flag and proper flag etiquette.
A short history of the American flag
While we tend to associate the American flag with the famous Betsy Ross, that design needed plenty of changes over the years. It has always had the same modern 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies, but it originally had only 13 stars to also represent those colonies. Those stars were arranged in a circle on a background of blue.
The American flag we now know went through several iterations as the number of states increased—each represented by a star. It finally landed on the full 50 stars in 1959. Today’s flag boasts the longest streak of use in our country’s history.
Proper folding according to flag etiquette
Flag etiquette includes, believe it or not, only one proper way to fold a flag. It involves two people standing opposite, holding the flag the long way. One folds the stripes over the stars, then both people hold the new corners. Fold lengthwise again, then create a triangle at one corner that reaches all the way to the other. Continue to fold this triangle along its edge until you have a complete triangle with only blue visible on top.
Retiring flags that are no longer serviceable
While you might consider using an old flag for other purposes, that goes against our country’s code. According to The American Legion, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” This is often done by certain organizations in a ceremonial fashion. You can take them to drop-off spots at many state and county government offices, VFW or American Legion locations, or Boy Scouts and Girl Scout organizations to receive a proper ceremony.