Proper Retrieval of the American Flag...

  • Author: Rebbeca Espinossa-Fulgham
  • at 3:03 PM -

Proper Retrieval of the American Flag
A military funeral is a memorial or burial rite given by a country's military for an armed service member who dies in battle, a veteran, or other prominent military figures or heads of state. Following proper U.S. flag protocol is important when draping a casket. The flag must be draped so the blue union and its 50 stars are placed at the head of the casket, over the left shoulder of the deceased. "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."

Having many friends that currently serve, I thought I would share with you the meaning of the folds in the retrieval of the American Flag from a draped coffin; in case you don’t know. The American flag that is laid upon the coffins of our fallen American soldiers, and surrendered to so many widows and widowers, has a very special meaning in the ceremony of its careful removal and handling. This is why the honor guard pays such meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America flag 13 times. Every fold in its retrieval has a very special meaning.

  • The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
  • The 2nd fold is a symbol of the 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 its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their 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 them of their Nations 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. After the burial service, the flag is removed from the casket and an honor guard folds it 13 times to honor the veteran's service to the United States. The folded flag is then presented to the veteran's next of kin.

The 77th Congress adopted a codification of rules related to the American Flag as public law on June 22, 1942. It is Title 4, United States Code Chapter 1. According to this code, a flag that has been used to cover a casket can be used for any proper display purpose to include displaying this flag from a staff or flagpole.

In the future, you'll see flags folded by the Honor Guard, and you will know why.

Grantham University Fan Club salutes our Soldiers, Airman, Sailors, and Marines who preserve our freedoms and American way of life.


Written by

Becky works in the health sciences industry and spends most of her professional work day in the research and development laboratory working on applied solutions for health and wellness. Becky is an avant supporter of her alma mater Grantham University. In her free time she writes articles for the Grantham University Fan Club site and volunteers at the local Chicago suburb elementary school where her children attend. Her motto is, “Changing the world, one smile at a time!”