Thirteen Folds of Flag Honor All Americans


By Lt. Col. Roger Henry,  43rd Flying Training Squadron

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AETCNS) -- From each of our airman, NCO, senior NCO and officer professional military education courses, we have been indoctrinated to leadership, integrity, values and history. History is the one binding tradition that directly links all of these lessons together.   Having been a soldier for 30 years, I have been a spectator to a number of honor guard ceremonies. I have observed the ceremonies for a number of my fallen comrades killed in battle while I was a young helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and the dedications for our fallen and missing comrades today.

I have always been impressed with the precision, discipline and dedication of the honor guard members who performed this important function.   Like many people, I merely assumed that the practiced, rigid movements of the honor guard members, while they carefully folded our flag at the end of a ceremony, was a result of some unexplained, predetermined script. But here is the history behind that predetermined script.

The flag is folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it's handed to the widow or widower at the burial of a veteran.   Here are the reasons behind each fold.

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

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

3.   The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

4.   The fourth fold represents our 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.

5.   The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of naval hero Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

6.    The sixth 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.

7.   The seventh 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 her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

8.   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, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

9.    The ninth 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 has been molded.

10.   The 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.

11.   The 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.

12.   The 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 the Holy Spirit.

13.    When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust."





 This page created 4 December 2009