- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: 24 June 2011 24 June 2011
This script, which suggests a special meaning for each of the folds of the American flag, is presumed to have been written by a chaplain at the Air Force Academy. It is often used at the gravesides of veterans.
The first fold of the flag is a symbol of life. The second fold is a symbol of eternal life in Christ.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the United States and in the pursuit of peace.
The fourth fold represents the citizens of the United States turning to God for His divine guidance in times of peace and in times of war.
The fifth fold is a tribute to the country. In the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for the hearts that “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”
The seventh fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, who protect this country 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.
The ninth fold is a tribute to mothers. Through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth 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 eleventh fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The twelfth fold represents eternity and glorifies the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The thirteenth fold wraps the flag in the white stars and blue field, harkening the motto, “In God We Trust.”
There are many rules of etiquette when it comes to displaying, storing and disposing of an United States flag. We fold the flag, for example, into a triangle, with the field of stars enclosing the red and white stripes. Ceremonial touches help us to remember that the flag is more than a piece of cloth: it is a symbol of the people and events that have shaped this nation. The police won’t hunt you down if you don’t follow these rules, but respecting them is a way of demonstrating your respect for the things for which the flag stands: “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This concept—setting aside something common for a special purpose—is one with which Lutherans are very familiar. In the sacraments, common elements—bread, wine, water—are consecrated for heavenly ends. Every Sunday is a special day for rest and worship.
On the weekend when our nation celebrates the anniversary of its hard-won independence, we have a special gathering to thank God for this freedom from tyranny and for the even more important freedom that was won for us—Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
Saint John’s Board of Worship and the Arts oversees the details of the congregation’s worship life.