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  • Writer's pictureTom Vachet

How can we honor a Flag hardly anyone understands? 

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Our Flag stands as a representation of who we are as a Nation, and what it is we actually stand for. One of our most revered flag traditions is the presentation of the flag which covers the coffin of a veteran. Most don't understand the deep meaning of the flag folding ceremony. It is worthy I share it here.

Meaning of Flag-Folding Program. The flag-folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our great country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted only when draped as a pall on the casket of a veteran who has served our country honorably in uniform.


In the U.S. Armed Forces, at the ceremony of retreat, the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body. Symbols for the Folds of the Flag:


The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.


The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.


The3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.


The 4th fold represents our weaker nature; 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 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “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 our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we 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 7th fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our 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, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.


The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.


The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.


The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.


When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.” After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.


The source and the date of origin of this Flag Folding Procedure is unknown, however some sources attribute it to the Gold Star Mothers of America. But like the beautiful explanation of the Pledge Allegiance spoken by the beloved comedian, Red Skelton, and taught to him by his grade school teacher in my home town, it deserves to be passed down.

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