Yes, the flag amendment is dead, again. Yes, the Fourth of July is past. False history continues to plague the U.S. flag, however. When my wife forwarded to me the post below, it was the fourth time I had gotten it, recently. Bad history travels fast and far. Let’s see if we can steer people in a better direction with real facts.
Here is the post as it came to me each time — I’ve stripped it of the sappy photos that are occasionally added; note that this is mostly whole cloth invention:
Did You Know This About Our Flag
Meaning of Flag Draped Coffin.
All Americans should be given this lesson. Those who think that America is an arrogant nation should really reconsider that thought. Our founding fathers used God’s word and teachings to establish our Great Nation and I think it’s high time Americans get re-educated about this Nation’s history. Pass it along and be proud of the country we live in and even more proud of those who serve to protect our “GOD GIVEN” rights and freedoms.
To understand what the flag draped coffin really means……
Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.
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 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 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 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 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.”
MAYBE THE SUPREME COURT SHOULD READ THIS EXPLANATION BEFORE THEY RENDER THEIR DECISION ON THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. FORWARD IT; MAYBE SOMEONE WITH THE NECESSARY POWER, OR POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL INFLUENCE, WILL GET IT TO THEM.
IN THE MEANTIME, MAY GOD PROTECT US ALWAYS.
ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
That’s the post that I’ve gotten. Here are my thoughts.
Flag folds have no official symbolism: One may create a flag ceremony that talks of American values, but it is complete hooey to claim that there is any particular symbolism attached to folding the flag. Flag etiquette, for years the domain of the U.S. Marine Corps, the American Legion and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), is now prescribed by a section of U.S. law (without teeth) generally known as the U.S. Flag Code, 4 USC 1. Were there official symbolism to folding the flag, that is where it would be prescribed. Checking the law, we find no such symbolism. The U.S. flag code does not prescribe or describe any method of folding the flag. The triangular fold we teach Boy Scouts, used by the military honor guards, is actually a naval invention. Flags folded in that fashion can be attached to a lanyard and hoisted immediately — and the flag will neatly unfurl as it goes up. We use the fold on land for the same reason. It’s a traditional fold that predates our flag.
So the mythology attempted to be ascribed to the flag’s folding, even when inspirational, has no foundation in history or law. The polemical comments at the end of the e-mail suggest the original author wanted to make a statement about the Newdow Pledge of Allegiance case (in which the Ninth Circuit accepted Dr. Newdow’s arguments that “under God” was illegally inserted into the pledge, but the Supreme Court dodged by ruling Newdow lacked standing — see Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow (02-1624) 542 U.S. 1 (2004) 328 F.3d 466, reversed)). That case is old, by now. As with most internet legends, though, this flag-folding folderol lives on.
With that as background, let’s look at specific claims.
1. The 21-gun salute has nothing to do with 1776. According to the U.S. Army, the salute dates back to the 14th century — well before the European discovery of the Americas. Britain promoted a 21-gun salute in the 18th century, well before the American Revolution. We can understand that the fact that the numerals in 1776 add up to 21 is coincidence, and has no significance to U.S. flag mythology.
Even more telling is the fact that the U.S. did not use a 21-gun salute originally, but instead used as many guns as there were states. Again, according to the Army’s Center for Military History:
The gun salute system of the United States has changed considerably over the years. In 1810, the “national salute” was defined by the War Department as equal to the number of states in the Union–at that time 17. This salute was fired by all U.S. military installations at 1:00 p.m. (later at noon) on Independence Day. The President also received a salute equal to the number of states whenever he visited a military installation.
In 1842, the Presidential salute was formally established at 21 guns. In 1890, regulations designated the “national salute” as 21 guns and redesignated the traditional Independence Day salute, the “Salute to the Union,” equal to the number of states. Fifty guns are also fired on all military installations equipped to do so at the close of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.
Today the national salute of 21 guns is fired in honor of a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the President, ex-President and President-elect of the United States. It is also fired at noon of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.
2. Using the 13 colonies is just a mnemonic device to help flag folders figure out if they fold the flag correctly, or more likely, a mnemonic device to help kids remember the 13 colonies. If the flag in its prescribed dimensions is folded correctly, there will be 13 folds. Were the flag longer, or narrower, there would be more. From having folded the flag several hundred times, I can tell you that it is completely unnecessary to count the folds in the process. If the folds are too loose, it becomes apparent within a couple of folds.
For Scout ceremonies, I prefer using the Scout Motto, “Do your best Be prepared!,” with the first fold, accompanied by the twelve points of the Scout Law for the remaining folds: “A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”
3. The religious meaning would be illegal if official for folds 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, and 13. If the author of this canard wishes to imply that the “founders” intended such religious meaning, he or she is excluding the intent of founders like George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, to mention a few, who disagreed with much of the theology implied and/or believed such discussions inappropriate in public documents, laws, and actions. The recent Newdow case notwithstanding, any legislation with such religious overtones would have difficulty getting approval even of our current Congress, let alone earlier, less religious versions. Congress tends to avoid making such statements in legislation, and has never done so with regard to the flag.
4. No one disagrees that the flag represents the sacrifices of citizens who preceded us, soldiers, mothers, fathers, legislators, judges, farmers, factory workers, tribal chiefs, immigrant builders of railroads, cowboys, farmers, and even kids. We are all members of the Republic, after all. Were I to write a whole cloth mythology for the flag, I think I would dwell on those people and their conscious sacrifices for community good, in place of the overtly Christian symbolism. (That would be better Christian behavior as well, in my opinion.)
5. Good grief! They got the words of Stephen Decatur wrong! I rely on Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 16th Edition. Stephan Decatur, hero of the skirmishes with Tripoli and the War of 1812, offered a toast to the nation, at a banquet at Norfolk, Virginia, in April 1816: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.” One can only speculate at what odd urges drive someone to strike the word “intercourse” from a statement of a great man.
6. The naval method of folding flags predates the Pledge of Allegiance by 200 years at least. The phrase “one nation, under God, indivisible,” didn’t exist until 1954. As originally adopted by Congress in 1931, the Pledge said “one nation indivisible.” (There is some great irony in the use of “under God” to break up “nation indivisible,” is there not?) The original pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, long after the folding of the flag was tradition. It is simple error of history to describe a folding process as honoring a concept not written until long after the folding process was created and promulgated. “Under God” was added in 1954 after a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus, to distinguish the U.S. from the “godless” Soviet Union.
7. Twelve folds until 1956? According to the faux symbolism above, the 12th fold represents the U.S. motto, “In God We Trust.” That was declared the nation’s motto in 1956 (Public Law 84-140). Are we to understand that there was no 12th fold until 1956?
Prior to 1956, questions about the nation’s motto usually were answered with reference to the Seal of the United States, which bears three mottos: “E Pluribus Unum” on the obverse (Out of many, one), and “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (A new order of the ages), and “Annuit Coeptis” (Providence has favored our undertakings) on the reverse. Those mottoes are based on lines from the poetry of the Roman, Virgil.
8. Any resemblance of a triangle to a tricorn hat is purely coincidental. We already noted that the folding procedure preceded the American Revolution. No one, at any time, made a search to find a way of folding the flag to resemble a tricorn hat. Nor for that matter were tricorns supposed to resemble a folded flag. A tricorn hat adorns the statues of the Minutemen in Massachusetts, but far from all soldiers in the Continental Army wore them — some Virginians probably avoided them as crude affectations by the backwards, unrefined New Englanders (see David McCullough’s wonderful book, 1776).
Clearly, this folding-of-the-flag e-mail piece should not be something any court bases any decision on, nor should it be offered to innocent children as an explanation of anything. It is rife with errors, and where it strays close to accuracy, it ascribes erroneous motive.
I have toyed with the idea of presenting such a thing to a class, with their assignment being to find the errors and correct them. Pedagogically, it may be better for students to learn the correct stuff first.