Flag Day: All Old Glory Represents

June 14, 2014

First published November 11, 2010

Old Glory Laid to Rest in a Reverent Service

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You will hear a lot of whining about the “state of our public schools.”  Like all of life in America our public schools are a mixed bag.  But there are islands of sanity and exceptionalism.  The Combined Honor Guard of the Grand Valley performed a flag retirement ceremony in front of my elementary school on the Monday before Veteran’s Day, 2010.  The Autum air was cold and the wind pestered those on the outside of the large group of teachers and students who stood as witnesses to this touching and teachable moment.  The crowd was mostly quiet and attentive.  And a feeling of awe and gratitute compassed the school kids and their leaders, the way the wind-blown leaves swirled around our feet.  This public school got it right.  The alliance of well mannered and absorbent students, caring and observant teachers, and a patriotic Principal made for one of the most memorable moments of the school year.  

Old Glory, our nation’s symbol and the image of liberty throughout the world, was retired.  The cycle of generations, whether it be of a cloth artifact, threadbare and faded, or the Republic for which it stands, returns the old to ash and the new to a perch in the sky.   The following is the script which is recited and performed at all formal flag retirement ceremonies.

The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.

  • The 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 who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a 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 her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
  • The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor 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 they were first born.
  • The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, 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.”

This recitation is like a prayer.  And it touched my heart with the same tender reverence that only prayer can evoke.  But this is simply the reconciliation of sentiments for a Nation and her ensign that have been Divinely established, and which perpetuates her Divine purposes even today, during dark and perplexing times.  The United States of America was founded upon the idea that worship of the Divine is magnified to its fullest meaning and purpose only when it is not compulsory.  The human heart comes by freedom naturally, and it is contrary to human nature to endure oppression in any measure.  Heavenly Father is the Author of Liberty, and no power or nation can survive while crushing the free liberty of its people, whether it be the liberty to worship how, where, or what one may, or the opportunity to fail or succeed while wielding that very liberty. The retirement ceremony for Old Glory felt holy because it was holy.  The purpose of liberty is sacred and the blood of the patriots who died, and will die, in its defense is sanctified.    Old Glory, laid to rest because she is worn out and tattered, does not cede her holy appointment to ashes and dust, but she is replaced with something new, fresh and ready to endure another epoch of weather and wind.

“In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead” — Ronald Reagan Farewell Address

By Marjorie Haun 11/11/10

July 4, 2010

  1. Scott Yagemann

    That was amazing, Marjorie. I didn’t know all that. Of course I have never seen a flag retirement, especially at a public school here in Los Angeles. The “God” parts of the ceremony would disqualify anything like that ever happening here. God is a four letter word in the LAUSD (just ask Joe Biden). No, that was “Jobs” is a three letter word to Joe Biden. My mistake.

  2. Thanks Scott. It is encouraging that something so spiritual can still occur on the campus of a public school.

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