Do you know that at military funerals, the 21 gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776? Have you ever noticed that 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 we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in “Eternal Life.”

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country and to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th 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 time of war for His divine guidance. 

The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephan Decaur, “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 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 7th 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 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 men and women have made this country great as it has been molded. 

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he too has been given his sons and daughters for the defense of our 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 Hebrew’s eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, reminds us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.” After the flag is completely folded and tucked, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington as well as the Sailers 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 that we enjoy today. There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you’ll see flags folded. Now you will know why.


 Published in the April 2005 edition of the 42nd Rainbow Division Reveille Booklet