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Meticulous folding of U.S. flag holds meaning

Columnist Charlotte Lankard shares what she learned about how each of the 13 steps in the folding of the U.S. flag has distinct significance.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD Published: July 4, 2013

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

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.

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