Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Phyllis Lewis

Flag Day: The meaning of the folds in the flag


June 14, 2016

Today is Flag Day, which means it is also my brother-in-law’s birthday. Ed, who was in the Navy, used to say that he was so important that the entire nation flew flags in his honor. We always chuckled but do you know what each of the folds in our flag actually means?

Here is the answer, thanks to a booklet titled “GOD BLESS AMERICA: PRAYERS & REFLECTIONS FOR OUR COUNTRY” that LaVern Neihart gave me several years ago. It has a copyright date of 1999 and the part I am quoting states “The flag-folding ceremony described by the UNIFORMED SERVICES CODE is a dramatic and uplifting way to honor the United States flag on special days . . . at retirement ceremonies and funerals. The following is to be read as Honor Guard or Flag Detail is coming forward:”

“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 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, 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 11th 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 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glories, 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’.”

The pamphlet then goes on to say: ”Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to inspect the flag – after the inspection, resume reading:”

“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.”

Thank you to the people who donated funds to purchase the flags that are now proudly flown in our Worland downtown on those special occasions, to the person who spearheaded this outreach, and to the people who put up, take down the flags and store them for the next time. It makes my heart swell with pride when I drive down Main Street and see them flying.

Thanks, also, to Tim Barrus’ Boy Scout troop who post and take down the flags in people’s yards. This is a community service fundraising effort for this troop, so please contact Tim if you would like to participate in this service. You can drive by my house and see that one of their flags will be posted in my front yard. Several years ago the boys were retrieving the flags and I stopped to tell them ‘thank you, etc.’ to which one Scout responded by politely saying “Thank you, Ma’am, but we have to hurry to get the flags all in before it gets dark.” Thank you Tim and the other Scout Masters for teaching our youth proper flag etiquette.

Sunday will be Father’s Day and my Dad was a wonderful influence in each of us ‘girls’ lives. I put ‘girls’ in quotes because we range in age from 66 to nearly 83 – hardly ‘girls’ anymore. We all went with Dad when he delivered fuel oil and gas to his customers who lived in about a 40 mile radius from the house. He told us old-time tales and yarns, gave us one-on-one time, and unmercifully teased us. He taught us to ride horses and when I see my boys riding, I see how he influenced the way they sit their horse. They inherited his ability to tease the heck out of their Mom. They have a gentle, but to-the-point, way of getting their thoughts across to me – just like Dad did. He taught us all to drive the tractor, rake hay, and buck it up to the stack. He taught us to appreciate nature, how to dig worms and how to bait a fish hook. Thanks, Dad! Love you to the moon and back!


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