I grew up in the Vietnam era and recall watching the evening news and seeing the flag-draped coffins of our veterans as they came home for the final time. I assumed draping the flag over the coffins was a sign of respect and honor for those that had given the ultimate price for our country. Little did I know that it is so much more than that!
Here is how to understand the flag that is draped upon a coffin and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers. Did you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776. Why 1776? The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. This Declaration summarized the 13 American colonies motivations for seeking independence.
Have you ever noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times? Is this to symbolize the original 13 colonies? That’s what I would have thought, but no….
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who sacrificed their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th 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 time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur (a naval officer and commodore, the son of a naval officer who served during the American Revolution), ‘Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.’
The 6th 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 the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to the 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 8th 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 9th 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 Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation’s motto, ‘In God We Trust.’
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, reminding us of all the soldiers who served under George Washington and all those who have served in the Armed Forces since.
I have 2 of these flags, one for my Dad and one for Rich. They have taken on a whole new meaning for me.
May God protect us always, one Nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice for all and may we never forget those who have sacrificed so much for us.