There is no way to properly thank those who have served and lost their lives in the line of battle defending the United States in the armed forces. The most we can do is honor them in death. This is the meaning of the flag-draped coffin at a military funeral. This action honors Military Veterans who served the United States.
Draping the Flag
There are a couple of different ways that the military will drape a united states flag on the casket of a deceased serviceman or servicewoman. This includes Closed Casket, Half Couch (open), and Full Couch (open). The standard protocol is the blue field is placed at the head and over the left shoulder.
Regardless of the branch, whether it be U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast guard, the same message is stated. It states, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Air Force, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
Following this, Taps is played by a bugler and the US flag is folded thirteen times on the triangles. Once folded, it resembles the tri-cornered hats worn by the Patriots during the American Revolution. Here are the meanings of each individual fold, according to the National guard Associations, Mississippi.
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- 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 the 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 firstborn.
- 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 nation motto, ‘In God We Trust.’
This flag is then presented to the deceased veteran’s next of kin. This can be a spouse, sons or daughters in biological age order, oldest parent, blood or adoptive relative granted legal custody, brothers or sisters in biological age, oldest grandparent, other relatives, or a close friend/associate. This folded flag becomes a keepsake and reminder that the United States is honoring their loved one.