Today I attended a Veterans' Day ceremony, which included a folding of the American flag and reading of the meaning of each of the folds.
In honor of the day and of our nation's cherished veterans, I reproduce those meanings here:
- 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.
(Source: The American Legion)
Have these meanings and symbols been controversial because some are overtly faith-based? Yes. Yet, while this ceremony and the reading are not mandated in the federal laws, they are embodied in tradition and written in various governmental and military manuals.
I hope that the meanings and symbols in this ceremony continue to give comfort to veterans and to the families who have lost their warriors.
Thank you, Veterans. We salute you.