Army Air Corps Funeral Honors
A United States flag draped over the casket of a deceased serviceman
or woman is done to honor the memory of his or her service to America. This custom
began in 1796, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The flag is placed so that the blue field with stars is at the
head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. After Taps has been played, the flag is
carefully folded into the familiar, and symbolic, tri-cornered shape.
This custom of special flag folding is one that is particular
to United States servicemen.
The flag is presented to the next of kin at the end of the
funeral, usually by a military chaplain.
Each branch of the Armed Forces uses its own wording for
Traditionally, the U.S. Air Force uses: "On behalf of
the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation,
we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of (Service Member's rank and name)."
Traditionally, the U.S. Army uses: "As a representative
of the United States Army, it is my high privilege to present to you this flag. Let it be a
symbol of the grateful appreciation our nation feels for the distinguished service rendered
to our country and our flag by your loved one."
The 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the
Many Americans believe that the 13 folds in the funeral flag
are to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but...
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 this 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
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country.
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 to mothers. 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 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
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in
the Christians' eyes, God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are
uppermost reminding all of our nations motto, "In God We Trust."
There is an illustration of how the flag is folded, here:
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 they are done so.
Information submitted by Elise Rawlings