On Wednesday, June 26, the Benton County Volunteer Program (BCVP) was privileged to host the Veterans’ Honor Guard from Parkers Crossroad Veterans’ Cemetery as guest presenters. These volunteers are part of an elite group of retired military personnel who have the honor of performing the flag ceremony that is held at the funeral or memorial service of a U.S. military veteran.
The flag folding ceremony honors the soldier and demonstrates respect to his or her family, especially at the moment when the fully folded flag is presented to a close relative of the veteran being honored. This ceremony is available to all veterans, whether or not they are buried in a Veterans’ Cemetery.
To begin the program, BCVP Director Chris Stone introduced Honor Guard Commander Art Hemby, who relayed the story of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, Md., during the British attack in the War of 1812. He shared the bravery of the men and women who fought to keep the flag flying during the battle. The next morning, as people lay dead or wounded on the ground, the flag was still upright. From a ship in the harbor, Frances Scott Key observed this wondrous sight, which led him to pen the Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.
Next, today’s Honor Guard, composed of veterans Sherman Boyd, Keith Ivy, Brent Middleton, and Spurgeon Smith, marched to the front of the room where they unfolded a triangular-shaped flag. They then refolded the flag with precision as Frank Lewis told the meaning of each fold.
Folding the U.S. Flag
The first fold of the 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. 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.
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie, remembering it is with our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the U.S.A.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the ones who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood and mothers, and to honor our mothers, for whom it flies on Mothers’ Day.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the fathers, for they too, have given sons and daughters for the defense of our country.
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 Christian citizens, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, with regard to the canton field of blue, dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on the casket of a veteran who has served his country.
When the final fold is completed, the stars of the flag are uppermost, reminding us of our National Motto “In God We Trust.”
After the flag is completely tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers, sailors, and marines who fought to gain our independence during the Revolutionary War. In the following years, these brave patriots were followed by their comrades in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for U.S. citizens the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
BCVP would like to thank the Honor Guard for the informative and touching ceremony. As we celebrate our Independence Day this July 4th, may we know joy in our souls and pride in our hearts when we see our flag on display. May we always remember the sacrifice of those who served our country and their families all through the decades in preservation of our freedom. May all be blessed and may our beautiful flag forever fly over our land of the free and our home of the brave.