The thing that has been most gratifying to me is the outpouring of love and support from our nation’s youth, not only for the victims of the World Trade Center, but also for the men and women in the Armed Services.
At some point in time, most Americans have attended a military funeral or have seen one or more on television. One of the last duties performed by the Honor Guard is the folding of the American flag and presenting it to the next of kin. The flag is folded 13 times, but did you know that each fold has special significance? I didn’t, until someone was kind enough to send me this information a few weeks ago. If you don’t already know this, as a patriotic American, you might like to know what each fold means.
The First Fold is a symbol of life.
The Second Fold is our belief in eternal life.
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.
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.
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 is still our country, right or wrong.”
The Sixth Fold is for where out 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 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.
The 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.
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.
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 Spirit.
The Thirteenth Fold is when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s 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 Gen. George Washington, and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the armed forces of the United States, preserving the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
In the coming weeks, months and years, we will see many flags folded 13 times. And now, many of us will know the reason why.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)