Although we've often seen flag-draped coffins, many of us, and particularly our children and grandchildren, do not understand the flag that is laid upon it and surrendered to so many families.
Shawnee's Don Boydston gave me a history lesson, and I pass it on to you. You can also find this and more about the flag online at www.usflag.org/fold.flag.html.
Ever wonder why a 21-gun salute is used? The salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776.
Have you ever noticed how the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the U.S. flag 13 times? I've thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but no.
The first fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of 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 time 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 it is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart 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 the nation's armed forces, for it is the armed forces that protect the United States and the flag against all enemies, whether they be found without or within 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, 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 the country.
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 Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, which completes the folding, shows 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, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under 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 they enjoy today.