My husband and I recently attended a military retirement ceremony of a friend who served 30 years in the Navy. It was a beautiful service–full of tradition, protocol, honor guard, rituals, local dignitaries, guest speakers, words of praise and honor, and of course, the folding of the American flag. However, I didn’t know that the flag consisted of thirteen folds, each representing either a person or persons, religious principles our country was founded on, an honorable ideal, our armed forces as a whole, and other significant tributes.
The next time you watch the folding of the flag, keep in mind how the red and white stripes wrap into the blue area, known as the “canton”, signifying the light of day giving way to the darkness of the night. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton (region) of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.
Here are the tributes represented by each fold:
First Fold: Represents the symbol of Life
Second Fold: Represents our belief in Eternal Life
Third Fold: A tribute to those in the ranks who gave their lives for the defense of our country in an effort to attain peace in the world.
Fourth Fold: Represents our weaker nature. As Americans, trusting in God, it is to Him we turn to in wartimes as well as times of peace.
Fifth Fold: This fold represents America–our country. “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.” -Stephen Decatur.
Sixth Fold: A tribute to our hearts. We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America with our hearts. We stand together, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
Seventh Fold: A tribute to the armed forces. It is because of our country’s armed forces that our country and flag is protected from all enemies, whether they are within her boundaries or outside of them.
Eighth Fold: The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother’s day.
Ninth Fold: Is a tribute to womanhood; 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.
Tenth Fold: Is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
Eleventh Fold: In the eyes of a Hebrew citizen 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.
Twelfth 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 Spirit.
When completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.” Now folded, it takes on the appearance of a tri-cornered hat. This serves to remind us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
-Information obtained about the 13 folds is taken from www.usflag.org
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