Conservative America and "The Meaning of the Flag-Draped Coffin"

by SweetBabyCheezits 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • SweetBabyCheezits

    Today I received a mass-FWD email from a fellow employee (down here in Baptist country) entitled The Meaning of the Flag-Draped Coffin. I'm pasting the intro to it below the full email can be enjoyed by clicking the link.

    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.

    I hope you take the time to read this ... 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.

    It then proceeds to spell out the significance of each of the 13 folds of the American flag, many with strong Christianity-biased meaning.

    So I researched the content and I've got some comments to make but first I thought I'd see if anyone else felt like I did upon reading it.

    What thinketh you, good people?

  • james_woods

    I was always taught that the 13 stripes represented the 13 original colonies; just like the stars represent the current states.

  • SweetBabyCheezits

    Same here but this email was addressing the customary manner in which the flag is folded 13 times to produce a triangular pillow, per se, and the significance each fold carries in funeral ceremony for fallen soldiers.

  • SweetBabyCheezits

    For example, some of these are stated as follows...

    The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

    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 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.'

  • james_woods

    I call BS on this from an official US Military standpoint...of course, somebody (even in the military) could have made it up after the fact by creating "representations" for each fold.

    I was guessing that they represented the same thing as the stripes.

  • beksbks

    It makes me happier than ever to live in California

  • zoiks

    It's just another forwarded half-truthful massmail.

    The "meanings" assigned for each of the 13 folds are not original to the ceremony, nor are they the reason for it.

    Sounds like just another attempt at making this "God's nation", with all of the weird and scary things that would go with such a designation.

    Fortunately that isn't the case, and people of all faiths, creeds, beliefs, sexual orientations, and genders are viewed and treated with respect and dignity by everyone else. Oh, wait...

  • james_woods

    Another thought might be that the U.S. Military has long had protestant, catholic, jewish, and now even islamic chaplains - these guys are trying to co-opt a simple ceremonial custom for their own propaganda.

    Next - maybe they will think up religious verses for "Taps"...

  • beksbks

    Flag folding and presentation

    The flag of the United States draped over the casket is meticulously folded 13 times by a total of 6 honor guards, 3 on each side of the casket. The following information describes the symbolic meaning for each fold of the flag. [5] It is important to note that the thirteenfold procedure was a common practice long before the creation of a ceremonial assignation of "meaning" to each of the steps. Such symbolism has been mistakenly attributed to have an integral part in the origins of the thirteenfold procedure. In truth, it evolved as a means of providing religious significance to the ceremony and its participants, and is often requested to be read alongside the folding of the flag at funerals. [6]

  • james_woods

    In truth, it evolved as a means of providing religious significance to the ceremony and its participants, and is often requested to be read alongside the folding of the flag at funerals. [6]

    Yup - that is what I thought. Both my father and my grandfather had military funerals, and nothing about this was ever even mentioned.

  • SweetBabyCheezits

    Great comments!

    I absolutely can't stand mass-mails that circulate misinformation so I typed up a reply to the guy who sent it to me. We're on pretty good terms and have debated civilly before. Here's most of it...

    The author says some people refer to us as an “arrogant country”. While I believe it’s wrong to generalize an entire country as having any particular trait, this email certainly shows the author's hand: he is presumptuous and sociocentric. I believe this message reflects a prejudice among a high percentage of otherwise intelligent citizens (esp in the south), but that’s another story.

    Regarding the facts: The 21-gun salute had nothing to do with the year 1776. In fact, the custom predates the American Revolution. The numbers add up, sure, but the significance is purely eisegetical. If you want to read the true origin of the 21 gun salute, check out this link:

    As for the flag folding, according to snopes, that is not the original reason the flag was folded in the traditional 13-step manner. Like many customs, those meanings were ascribed later. The method of folding was originally developed for technique and presentation. If someone chooses to assign meaning, religious or otherwise, that’s their prerogative and I’m glad I live in a country where a person can believe however they wish. But the author is the one who needs to get re-educated in history.

    Bear in mind, it would be ridiculous – if those were the true meanings behind the folding – to perform such a religiously-biased ceremony for every veteran who dies.

    After all, what if a soldier who dies doesn’t share the same religious views? If he was never a Christian, how respectful is it *of his sacrifice* to perform a ceremony at his funeral in which the fundamental meaning allows for only one religious view - one that he didn’t even subscribe to when alive?

    In a country advertising freedom of belief, freedom of speech, and diversity, wouldn’t it be ironic that the traditional military funeral ceremony is, by default, limited in meaning to one religious view?

    Thankfully, the VA policy on flag-folding recitations does not uphold such a narrow view (from ).

    • Volunteer honor guards are authorized to read the 13-fold flag recitation or any comparable script;

    Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be read by the volunteer honor guards; and

    • Volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.

    One last thing: I’m not really a history buff but I do know that, among other founding fathers, Thomas Paine was very much not a Christian, but a deist. He wrote a book called The Age of Reason, which contains his views of the Bible.

  • james_woods

    Very good reply.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    If no one knows the ascribed meaning can it have any meaning? There is no documentation to some legitimate statement passed by Congress whatever that says this about the folds.

    We are emphatically not a Christian nation. Saying we are Christian does not make the US Christian. Great Britain was a Christian nation. The official church of government was and remains the Church of England. The American experience, in large part, was founded by religion dissidents who did not want a national church. They came here to escape such a system. Most the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians. Jefferson even edited the Bible to take out irrational sayings. Nowhere does the Constitution use the word Christian or any other descriptive language. Rather, the states refused to ratify the const'n without an express bar on religious establishments. Without such a guarantee, no const'n would exist.

    We had a Christian culture. Most citizens believed in Christianity yet they did not want Christianity endorsed. They show their ignorance when they claim otherwise. This is not my personal take. Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Rehniquist have authored multiple Supreme Court opinions endorsing my view. Even Justice Thomas would agree.

  • cofty

    Reminded me of this...warning if you click the triangle you can never get those four and a half minutes back!

  • chickpea

    SBC.....thanks for stating my points as well
    re: LOOK IT UP ON SNOPES before you hit
    forward; plenty of military personnel are
    NOT xian; hello, the founding fathers
    were hardly xian... deists is as far as it goes

  • worldtraveller

    I was wondering if this coffin contained the remains of a deceased gay soldier?

    Westboro, Your creator is ashamed.

  • beksbks

    Cofty, despite the warning, I think you owe me..............a drink at least.

  • BizzyBee

    Sorry, but 2:10 was as far as I could get.

    Yes, I think the melding of church and state is abominable.

  • watson


  • BizzyBee


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