One of the things I really miss about living aboard base is the constant presence of the American flag. Today being Flag Day, I thought I’d talk a bit about the stars and stripes, Flag Day, and what it stands for.
The first Flag Day was celebrated in 1877 on the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. But it wasn’t until 1885 when it would be instituted an annual observance. A school teacher in Wisconsin organized a group of school children to honor June 14 and BJ Cigrand has since been known as the father of Flag Day. It was President Woodrow Wilson who made it a nationally observed day in 1919 and Flag Day has been noted on the calendar since.
Living aboard base, Flag Day was quite apparent as most households would hang their flags on their porches in tribute, and it’s that showing of patriotism I miss so. Although, I have to say, the small mountain town we live in now shows patriotism in spades by keeping the flag out in force along our main street.
This town seems to get it, unlike so many children today and many adults who are unaware of the history of our flag or its meaning, and few if any aside from families of the fallen understand the significance of the folding of the American flag as it’s taken from the casket before presentation to the family.
The flag consists of thirteen alternating stripes of red and white and the blue union filled with fifty white stars. The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies who declared independence from Great Britain while the stars represent the fifty states. There wasn’t always fifty. The original flag had thirteen and stars were added as states joined the Republic (yes, we are a republic, not a democracy. Another thing widely misunderstood). The colors were chosen for their meaning, as were the number of stripes and stars. White signifies purity and innocence, red represents valor, and blue stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. For two hundred forty-three years, those colors have been carried into battle by those who would protect our freedoms. And under those colors those whose lives were given in those battles would go to their final resting places.
When the military or civil authority detail removes the flag for presentation to the family of the fallen, it’s carefully and meticulously folded into a triangle leaving the union and stars showing. Each fold carries with it a meaning. The following explanation is borrowed from www.legion.org.
“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 departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; 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 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 our 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 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.
The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, 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 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 has 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 and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
The source and the date of origin of this Flag Folding Procedure is unknown, however some sources attribute it to the Gold Star Mothers of America while others to an Air Force chaplain stationed at the United States Air Force Academy. Others consider it to be an urban legend. It is provided as a patriotic service to all.
Today and every day, take care of our flag. Respect our flag. Teach your children not only about our flag but teach them the Pledge…
“I 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.”
So few words, such profound meaning. Learn them. Treasure them.
Thanks for spending a few of your free moments with me today learning about our flag. Thank you to www.military.com, www.legion.org, and www.usflag.org for helping me in my research and finding all the information I needed for today’s post.