U.S. Military History: U.S. Flag Folding—Part 2 of 2

Ross Dunfee

A veteran has breathed his last and is gone. A U.S. flag is draped over the casket during the service and, when the service has concluded, the flag is folded and presented to a family member. In most of the flag folding ceremonies, each of the 13 folds has a specific meaning. While there are several scripts for the ceremony, the script printed below is said to represent the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded.

Flag Fold No.:

1. A symbol of life.

2. Our belief in eternal life.

3. In honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.

4. Exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance.

5. An acknowledgement to our 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.”

6. 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. A tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies.

8. 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 our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

9. An honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

10. A tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first-born.

11. Represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. Represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the eyes of Christian citizens, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Finally, the folded flag is presented to a family member and the presenter states, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Service Branch), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

The source and the date of origin of this Flag Folding Procedure is unknown, however some sources attribute it to the Gold Star Mothers of America while others to an Air Force chaplain stationed at the United States Air Force Academy. It is provided as a patriotic service to all.

Support Our Troops-Arizona honors our veterans, both living and deceased, by placing 628 U.S. flags along the principal roadways in Robson Ranch 11 to 12 times each year. Visit www.sotaz.org to learn more about Support Our Troops-Arizona.