Why the American Flag is Folded Thirteen Times

As a kid at YMCA day camp, being chosen to fold the flag at the end of the day was the best!! Like any skill it takes several times to get it right especially for an 11 year old. First you have to catch the flag and not let one tiny bit of it touch the ground, think about the size of an average 11 year old! That’s quite a responsibility! Then there’s a holder and a folder. After a while I could fold a flag SO tight! I was proud to teach other campers when I became a counselor! Yes, Anne Sommerkamp worked at a summer camp in my teens. Insert jokes here__________.

I’ve known how the 21 gun salute was determined (adding the individual digits of 1776) and knew the flag was folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the widow at the burial of a veteran. BUT I didn’t know the significance of each fold. A friend from high school who served in the Marine Corps posted this – but I have a few problems with a few things. I will address those at the end because for the most part this is fascinating.

“Have you ever noticed on TV or at military funerals that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times?

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 veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain 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 time 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, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh 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 twelfth 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 Spirit.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust”. 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. There are some traditions and ways of doing things which have deep meaning. You will see many flags folded in the coming weeks, and now you will know why.”

I love our flag, I love our country, I am fighting for VA funding to keep 29 veterans a day from committing suicide and to prevent veterans from becoming our largest homeless population. So with utmost respect for veterans and Old Glory I would like to insert a few facts.

BUT concerning the sixth fold –but the words “under God” were added to the pledge of allegiance in 1956 when the country was in the throes of the Red Scare and McCarthyism.

The current motto national motto, “In God We Trust,” was developed by a later generation as well. It was used on some coinage at the height of religious fervor during the upheaval of the Civil War.

In July 1776 after signing the Declaration of Independence – “E Pluribus Unum” (“from many, one”) was the motto founding fathers John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all agreed. The three took the motto to Congress where is was passed and became the official motto of the land.

The three men also worked in consultation with artist, Eugène Pierre Du Simitière, to approve our national symbol, still in use today, of an American bald eagle clutching thirteen arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. Fun fact to know and tell….

In other words, “In God We Trust” is a legacy of founders, but not the founders of the nation. As the official national motto, it is a legacy of the founders of modern American conservatism — a legacy reaffirmed by the current Congress.