UPDATE: I was notified by one of my faithful readers, that this information in this post is incorrect. Her contacts in the military told her that there is no significance to the number of folds in the flag at a funeral. I stand corrected.
You have attended, as have I, the funeral of military service veteran. You may have wondered what that flag upon the coffin means. Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows:
Did you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the flag 13 times? You may have thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol for 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 gave a portion of their lives for the defense of their 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, “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 Hebrew’s eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christian’s eyes, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their 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, ever reminding us the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
These are some of the traditions and ways of doing things that have meaning. In the future, you’ll see flags folded and now you’ll understand why.
In celebration of the Fourth of July!