To thank everyone for thanking me for my service, I’d like to post the text of my Flag Ceremony. It was an honor and a privilege to serve. And, on occasion, it was a lot of fun as well.
My flag ceremony was only the second one I had seen done for retirement purposes. I was going to forgo it—I’m someone who doesn’t like a lot of muss and fuss. But my first sergeant threatened to have me killed if I didn’t have the ceremony, so I relented. I’m very glad that my mind was, ahem, changed.
Note the Christianity explicitly spelled out in the text. I wonder how long the text will remain in its present state before some unreasonable non-Christian raises hell about it, pun intended.
I’d also like to dedicate this post to those who are still serving, especially those far from home. May every last one of you come home safe!
(Music begins – the team will march in when the first set of cymbals play)
(MC begins when the flag has been marched in and is stationary)
The flag is the symbol of our national unity, our national endeavor, our national aspiration. The flag tells of the struggle for independence, of union preserved, of liberty and union, one and inseparable, of the sacrifices of brave men and women to whom the ideals and honor of this nation have been dearer than life. It means America first; it means an undivided allegiance. It means America united, strong and efficient, equal to her tasks. It means that you cannot be saved by the valor and devotion of your ancestors, that to each generation comes its patriotic duty; and that upon your willingness to sacrifice and endure as those before you have sacrificed and endured rests the national hope. It speaks of equal rights, of the inspiration of free institutions exemplified and vindicated, of liberty under law intelligently conceived and impartially administrated. There is not a thread in it but scorns self-indulgence, weakness, and rapacity. It is eloquent of our community interests, outweighing all divergences of opinion, and of our common destiny.
(Begin reading as Honor Guard or Flag Detail is coming forward).
The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.
In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation's honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a 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 times 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 in to 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, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to 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 Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God we Trust."
(Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to inspect the flag--after the inspection, resume reading when flag is held above for everyone to see.)
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.
So, the next time you see the American flag folded, honoring someone who has served our country, either in the Armed Forces or in our civilian services such as the Police Force or the Fire Department, keep in mind all the important reasons behind each and every movement. They have made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us by honoring our flag and our country.
(Basic text for the flag folding ceremony can be found USFlag.org.)