One of the most poignant parts of Selma's Veterans' Day ceremony featured a flag-folding demonstration by the Southside High School ROTC unit. The "13-Fold Recitation," which gives meaning to the folds of the flag, was read.
While the "13-Fold Recitation" isn't part of the Federal Flag Code, the ceremony is one of tradition and was printed in government and military manuals and recited at many military funerals. Then, in October 2007, the National Cemetery Administration banned the recitation at all national cemeteries. Not long after, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated that "any recitations at the graveside of a veteran can reflect the wishes of the family." So, if the veteran's family wants the meaning of the folds included, so shall it be.
Symbols for the folds of the FlagThe 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, and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain 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 enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
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 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 he or she was first born.
The eleventh 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 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.”
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.