After witnessing the folding of the flag at my father’s burial service recently, I realized I had no knowledge of meaning behind the thirteen folds it took to produce the triangular pillow handed over to my mother.
Snopes.com, one of the Internet rumor police, was quick to say, contrary to popular opinion, each fold did not have a significant meaning, but rather was done so as to “provide a dignified ceremonial touch that distinguishes folding a flag from folding an ordinary object such as a bedsheet.”
Truthorfiction.com was a bit more gracious in saying the meaning of the folds was “not without importance, but is not official and not required.”
Nevertheless, the following meaning became a part of military funerals, I believe because it represents the truths we hold dear and upon which this country was founded.Although other meanings have been attached to this somber and significant ceremony, the one that evokes that quiet pride in our hearts at each turn of the red, white, and blue is the one that represents honor for life, freedom, country, and God.
May God bless America.
The Thirteen Folds
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks
who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.
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 times of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute 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."
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.
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.
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.
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 have been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
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.
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 Holy Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national 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 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.