Memorial Day is an important day in American history. Originally called Decoration Day, it was intended to honor those who paid the ultimate price in war time by decorating their graves. 

When I was a child, Memorial Day was the beginning of the summer season. It was a day for picnics and badminton, swimming and seeing family and friends. There was no talk of decorating graves, soldiers who died, or war that I can recall. Perhaps because although my dad, uncles and brother all served in the military, they all came back alive. 

My dad and uncles all served in WWII. They were welcomed home as conquering heroes, and are called the Greatest Generation. My brother served in Vietnam. There were no parades when he came home. There was no honor or respect for those brave young men and women when they reached our shores, many of them changed forever. They were called baby killers, spit on, and dishonored for their service. When my brother came home he put the war behind him and to this day has not spoken of his experience there. 

Over the years, America has grown a national conscience with respect to Vietnam, and it seems we have attempted to rectify the wrongs done to those soldiers and now they are receiving the honor they are due. 

My son also served. Part of his service was the United States Air Force Honor Guard and this involved being a part of military funerals. For a number of years during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars he was part of a group that provided the military funeral honors ceremony that included folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the sounding of taps. He often told me that it was an enormous privilege to be a part of these ceremonies. 

On this Memorial Day, I am posting the meaning of the folded flag. May we never forget those who have fought and died for the rest of us; that we might be free. 

The American Flag is Folded 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.
With the final fold the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.”

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