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The Flag Ceremony

Ceremonies mark off important passages in our lives. Ceremonies incorporate all five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and feeling. These senses bind the event into our memories and set it aside in the area reserved for long-term rather than short-term memory. Along the years, we have learned to attach significance to each step within a ceremony; labeling them with specific scriptures or symbolism to reinforce the importance of the ceremony.


The Flag Ceremony is one of the most moving components of a military funeral. Its silence, its reverence, its precision is so symbolic of the life of a soldier.

Old Glory is folded thirteen times: twice lengthwise and then eleven times to form the triangular field of stars. Why triangular? To set it apart from the folding of normal every-day items like sheets and banners. Gradually over the years, each fold came to represent specific symbols.

The Symbol of Life
First Fold:
Lengthwise with the stripes on one side and the stars and stripes on the other side.

The Belief in Eternal Life
Second Fold:
Lengthwise with the stars on the outside of both halves

In honor and remembrance of the veteran(s) departing our ranks and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
Third Fold:
First Triangle
Starting at the stripes end, take the corner of the closed side and pull it up to the open side so that the previous end is now parallel with the open side.

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.
Fourth Fold:
Second Triangle
Take the tip of the triangle closest to the end of the flag and fold it across, parallel with the open side of the stripes. This creates a rectangle again.


A tribute to the United States of America, 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."
Fifth Fold:
Third Triangle
Repeat the third fold

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 stand, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Sixth Fold:
Fourth Triangle
Repeat the forth fold

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.
Seventh Fold:
Fifth Triangle
Repeat the third fold

A. A tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day
B. to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day
Eighth Fold:
Sixth Triangle
Repeat the forth fold

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
Ninth Fold:
Seventh Triangle
Repeat the third fold

Tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born
Tenth Fold:
Eighth Triangle
Repeat the forth fold

The lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (in reference to Hebrew heritage)
Eleventh Fold:
Ninth Triangle
Repeat the third fold

Symbolizes eternity and the Trinity of God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit (in reference to Christian heritage)
Twelfth Fold:
Using the remaining square of flag material, fold from the open end toward the folded triangular bundle. This forms two triangles.

“In God We Trust” (in reference to the US National motto)
Thirteenth Fold:
Tuck the triangle from the twelfth fold into the opening of the flag so that it won’t come unfolded.

The flag is then presented to the late veteran’s mother, wife, or oldest son, respectfully returning a living symbol of our nation to be carried beyond the grave and back home into the arms of the family so stricken with the loss of the one who died for our nation.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Evelyn Rainey. All rights reserved.
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