Flag Folding Symbolism

I like Sunday. It's always a nice relaxing day suitable for spiritual uplifting and/or inspiration. It's the time to look back on the previous week, either smiling with satisfaction or sighing with relief that it's over. Then you can look ahead with expectation to the coming week.

My friend Frank, retired military, provided the inspiration for today's message. He sent me this about the folding of the flag when it's removed from a coffin and, once folded, is presented to the grieving family. Perhaps you've received this already since it's probably just another Net floater, not that such status lessens its importance.

I was struck by the symbolism of the action of folding our flag. I didn't know that each fold of the flag, seen too often of late draped over coffins of our soldiers who lost their lives far away, means something rooted in history.

I did a little research using the link Frank gave me. After you've consumed this food for thought, I hope you'll pass it on or link to it. Thomas E. Bourne of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, compiled and posted this on the site to which his name is linked. Mr. Bourne served in the U. S. Coast Guard from 1951 to 1954. Thank you, sir, for enlightening the rest of us.

A Little History

At military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776.

Have you ever wondered why the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly fold the Flag of the United States of America 13 times? You may have thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but that's not true.

Symbolism of 13 Folds

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

The 2nd fold is a symbol of a belief in eternal life.

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

The 4th fold represents the 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 the 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 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to the Armed Forces, for it is the Armed Forces that protect the country and the flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of the 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 the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their 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 Hebrews' 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 Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or 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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

Takeaway Truth

The next time you see our flag draped over a soldier's casket, even if you don't know who it is, respect his or her sacrifice, even if you don't like the war being fought. Teach your children to respect our Armed Forces, our flag, our country. If possible, make a donation to a veterans' organization.


  1. I'm a Girl Scout albeit a rather old one (47). We were taught the proper folding of a flag and I participated in several public ceremonies. It was an honor to be chosen for these. There is so much ritual tied up in the American flag. I loved this blog because it reminded me of some things I sometimes let slip away.

    Did you know that if your flag has raggedy edges, you can take it to your local Girl or Boy Scout office to have them properly dispose of it?

  2. You can also turn in your worn flags at the post office for disposal I believe.