The Old Guard transports the flag-draped casket of the second Sergeant Major of the Army George W. Dunaway who was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
A United States flag drapes the casket of deceased veterans to honor the memory of their service to America. This custom began during the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815). The flag is placed so that the blue field with stars is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.
Veterans Affairs has a policy that allows for a full military funeral, which includes the playing of taps and the folding of the flag in respectful silence.
After Taps has been played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape. Upon request, family can have the honor guard read special recitations, which include religious symbolism.
As the honor guard makes the 13 folds — traditionally representing the original colonies — they recite "the first fold of our flag is a symbol of life, the second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life, etc."
The 1st fold of the flag is a "Symbol of life."
The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in "Eternal Life."
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents the 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 5th fold is a tribute to the 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 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart that they ". . . pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."
The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
The 8th 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.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. 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 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in Christians' eyes: God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations 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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
Military traditions and ways of doing things have deep meaning. In the future, whenever you see flags folded; now you will know why.
All Americans should know that Our Founding Fathers established this nation upon Judeo-Christian principles; on the premise " . . .that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . ."
Note:The following story from Fox News provided reference material in my research of the above information. I have participated in several military funerals, but only ever once recall such a recital, with the religious significance of each fold. This 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved. - S.L.
Furor After Ceremonial Flag-Folding Readings Pulled From Military Funerals