The flag folding ceremony represents the same principles on which the freedoms of our proud country were originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states of our veterans, of all generations, who 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 and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms. In the Armed Forces of the United States, “Retreat” accompanies the securing of the American Flag. It signals the end of the duty day and provides an opportunity for honoring the Flag, taking pride in rendering proper respect, and to recognize the freedom it stands for. At the ceremony of “Retreat”, the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold (the red and white stripes are folded into the blue like the light of day vanishing into the darkness of night) and is 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” (signifying the start of the duty day) is run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
The First Fold – In honor of the thirteen original colonies and our forefathers who founded this great nation. We salute you.
The Second Fold – To the men who died in the War for Independence. We salute you.
The Third Fold – To those men who fell in the War of 1812, to preserve our freedom. We salute you.
The Fourth Fold – To the brave soldiers on both sides, the North and the South, in the Civil War. We salute you.
The Fifth Fold – To those who shed their blood in the name of hope and freedom in the Great War. We salute you.
The Sixth Fold – For those who have gone before us and died in the terrible battles of World War II; Pearl Harbor, Anzio, Midway, The Bulge, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Normandy, and Berlin. We salute you.
The Seventh Fold – To the men of the First Marine Division, who, in a rear guard action at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea saved their battalion and the lives of their brother Marines. We salute you.
The Eighth Fold – For the brave men and women of our armed forces who died on the fields of fire in Vietnam and whose names will live on forever on that hallowed wall. We salute you.
The Ninth Fold – For those who lost their lives and suffered by the horrific and unspeakable terrorist acts of September 11th, and those who continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice in action during our Post 9-11 operations. We salute you.
The Tenth Fold – For our emergency response personnel and on site first responders; police, fire fighters, paramedics, doctors, and nurses. We salute you.
The Eleventh Fold – To God, our parents, and our families who we love and respect. We salute you.
The Twelfth Fold – To the men and women of our Armed Forces, the Arsenal of Democracy and the Hammer of Freedom. We salute you.
The Thirteenth Fold – Lastly to freedom, because without freedom there is no honor. Without honor, we are not Americans, and on this we vow, that as long as this Flag flies…we salute you.
When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.” 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 faithfully 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.