In the memorial service of any U.S. military veteran, the American flag plays a vibrant role. One of the key moments in the ceremony comes when the flag that’s draped over the casket is taken up and carefully folded into a triangle shape.
What you may not know is that the flag is folded a total of 13 times—and that each fold of the flag has rich symbolic meaning.
- The first fold symbolizes life.
- The second fold indicates a belief in everlasting life.
- The third fold honors the service member who has departed, after sacrificing a portion of their life to keep the rest of us safe and secure.
- The fourth fold denotes our weaker nature as citizens, and our ongoing trust in God to guide us.
- The fifth fold stands for the country itself, and our belief that, though the country may sometimes be wrong or right, it’s always our country.
- The sixth fold represents the heart, with which we pledge allegiance and honor our nation.
- The seventh fold is a tribute to the Armed Forces that safeguard our land.
- The eighth fold represents the person who has descended into the Valley of Death’s Shadow; it also honors the mother, for whom the flag is flown on Mother’s Day.
- The ninth fold honors the character of womanhood and the men and women who together have shaped this country.
- The tenth fold represents the father, for he, too, has sacrificed his sons and daughters to protect this land.
- The eleventh fold is seen, in the eyes of Jewish individuals, as representing the seal of King David and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The twelfth fold is significant to Christian believers, who see it as an emblem of eternal life and of the Trinity.
- The final fold of the flag allows us to see only the stars, which remind us of our nation’s identity as "one nation under God.”