Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Understanding the meaning of the flag draped coffin.


For Patriot Guard Riders
and anyone else who may attend the funeral of one of our veterans. We often see the ceremonial folding of the flag at military funerals but most do not know the true meaning and depth of this time honored tradition.

Here is how to understand what the flag draped coffin really means.

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?


Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

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 time of war for His devine 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 first born.

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! repr esents 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 nations 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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why. Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to, the symbol of "Liberty and Freedom"

(Below is an excerpt about the story of Taps played at funerals. Some of you may wish to visit the Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, Virginia.)

This first sounding of Taps at a military funeral is commemorated in a stained glass window at The Chapel of the Centurion (The Old Post Chapel) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The window, made by R. Geissler of New York and based on a painting by Sidney King, was dedicated in 1958 and shows a bugler and a flag at half staff. In that picture a drummer boy stands beside the bugler. The grandson of that drummer boy purchased Berkeley Plantation where Harrisons Landing is located. The site where Taps was born is also commemorated. In this case, by a monument located on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation. This monument to Taps was erected by the Virginia American Legion and dedicated on July 4, 1969. The site is also rich in history, for the Harrisons of Berkeley Plantation included Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison, both presidents of the United States as well as Benjamin Harrison (father and Great grandfather of future presidents), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
It must be pointed out that other stories of the origin of Taps exist. A popular one is that of a Northern boy who was killed fighting for the south. His father, Robert Ellicombe a Captain in the Union Army, came upon his son's body on the battlefield and found the notes to Taps in a pocket of the dead boy's Confederate uniform. When Union General Daniel Sickles heard the story, he had the notes sounded at the boy's funeral. There is no evidence to back up the story or the existence of Captain Ellicombe. As with many other customs, this solemn tradition continues today. Although Butterfield merely revised an earlier bugle call, his role in producing those 24 notes gives him a place in the history of music as well as the history of war.
As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, "Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep." As the years went on many more versions were created.

There are no official words to the music but here are some of the more popular verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,From the hills, from the lake,From the sky.All is well, safely rest,God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,May the soldier or sailor,God keep.On the land or the deep,Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,When the day, And the nightNeed thee so?All is well. Speedeth allTo their rest.
Fades the light; And afarGoeth day, And the starsShineth bright,Fare thee well; Day has gone,Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,'Neath the sky,As we go, This we know,God is nigh.
Jari A. Villanueva, jvmusic@erols.com is a bugler and bugle Historian

This excerpt was obtained from www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html

2 comments:

KT Did said...

Wow! I am honored just to read this! Thanks for this post!

WooleyBugger said...

I hope it helps you out in some way.
Good to hear from you...and Happy Valentines Day.