This is a patriotic study of the meaning behind the flag draped coffins at military funerals. As you have probably noticed, following the ceremony the honor guard removes the United States flag from the coffin and pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the flag 13 times. The folded flag is then handed to the widow or widowers. Unless you have been in the military yourself you have probably always assumed that folding the flag 13 times was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but it has a much deeper meaning.
The first fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but she is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, and mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrew eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
And the 13th and final fold of the American flag, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their Nations motto, “In God We Trust.”
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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms that we enjoy today.
The 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers – 1776.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meanings. Hopefully, in the future, when you see flags that have been folded in that traditional triangle you will have a better understanding and knowledge.
Share this with the ones you love and all others who love what is referred to as the symbol of “Liberty and Freedom.”
One Nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice for all.
-- To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592.