Did you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776? And have you noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but it doesn’t.
In the armed forces of our great nation, each morning at reveille, our flag is hoisted aloft to the top of its staff, as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body. In the evening at retreat, after “Taps” has been sounded, it is lowered and folded in a triangle fold as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead.
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature and our faith in a living God, for it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country in the words of Stephen Decatur, who said, “Our country, may she always be right in dealing with other countries; but right or wrong, she is still our country.”
The sixth fold is where our hearts lie – for it is with our hearts 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 them that our country and our flag is protected against all her enemies, whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to those who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day. This fold is made in honor of 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, devotion and loyalty that the characters of those great men who helped shape the destiny of this republic were molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he too has given of his son for the defense of our nation. We fold from the stripes toward the stars, for whereas the stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, they are now embodied in the fifty sovereign states represented by the stars.
The eleventh fold is for the eyes of a Hebrew citizen. This represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorify in their eyes, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies in their eyes, God the Eternal Father, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
The thirteenth fold is a reminder to all of us of the sacrifice, suffering and bloodshed by those of the original thirteen colonies who never gave up hope nor courage for the day they would be free from the yoke of tyranny imposed upon them by their mother country.
The flag is now completely folded with the stars upper most, which reminds us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”
The flag now 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. They, followed by their comrades and shipmates down through the years, have preserved for us the rights, privileges and freedoms which we enjoy today.
It is the duty and obligation of every American to uphold, defend and preserve these Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, our flag.