Final honors…

The last tribute to a military veteran…

First is the flag is placed on a closed casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.

Afterward, Taps is played, followed by a ’21’ gun salute.

Then the flag is folded 13 times. Here is what the 13 folds mean:

    • The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
    • The second fold signifies our belief in eternal life.
    • The third fold is made in honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.
    • The fourth fold exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance.
    • The fifth fold is an acknowledgement to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealign 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 enemies.
    • 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 our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
    • The ninth fold is an honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
    • The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first-born.
    • 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 a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
    • The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Afterward, three spent cases are placed in the folded flag, symbolizing the cessation to care for the wounded and dead on the battlefield. The firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle. The three spent cases represent the three volleys fired and the three words duty, honor, and country.

This honor is accorded to any veteran at the cemetery, if requested by the family.


Final honors… — 16 Comments

  1. I attend these ceremonies on a regular basis with The Patriot Guard Riders. It is always my honor to stand a flag line for a deceased American Hero. Most of the time I am close enough to hear the flag presentation to the family member.

    “On behalf of The President of The United States, The [branch of service], and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

    Also, casket flags are a strange size, 5′ x 9′ only meant to cover a casket, never to fly on a flagpole.

  2. Hey Old NFO;

    Thanks for the Reminder, especially with Veterans Day coming up.

  3. Very interesting facts. As a “Christian” nation, I would switch folds 11 & 12 putting the Christian one fold ahead of the Jewish fold simply to reflect the majority. Thank you for posting this.

  4. All- Thanks for the comments, and yes, worth remembering/thinking about.

    Posted from my iPhone.

  5. Never prouder of my Country than the 18 years that I worked as a caretaker at the VA National Cemetery providing Veterans with their last benefit.

  6. Thanks for the easy to read version. I also didn’t know the burial flag was a special size…

  7. Thanks for posting – minor nit, the listed order is wrong, Taps is sounded once the firing party is ordered to “Present Arms” after the three volleys, prior to the folding of the flag.

    Unfortunately, the three volleys are not part of the DOD’s officially authorized funeral honors for all veterans (DOD INSTRUCTION 1300.15), however local Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) usually have squads to provide them, upon request. If a family desires a live bugler (not the digital “ceremonial bugle”), some VSOs have them or the funeral directors may contact volunteer bugler organizations like with a request. Taps For Veterans has a sizeable list of buglers and often posts to their various social media groups if a request is unmet and folks will drive a significant distance to provide honors.

    I’ve been bugling since I learned to play in the 80’s and have been honored to sound the call at many funerals and public ceremonies, though the hardest and most personal are when requested, by the veterans themselves, to provide that honor when their time comes (most recent request was my wife’s uncle, after I sounded for one of his fellow Legionnaires).

    Mike the EE

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