Old Glory, a symbol with each fold

By Kay Helbling

I was stunned to find that in many schools across Oregon the Pledge of Allegiance is only recited during the week we celebrate Flag Day. It is worked in as a “lesson plan”. We’ve come a long way from showing daily allegiance for our country to simply discussing it in a lesson plan. But, I guess one week out of the year is better than none.

As a little girl I was taught the importance of honoring our country’s flag in school by a daily recitation of the Pledge. At home, my dad, the consummate veteran, would require that we all stand with hand over heart at the end of each days television broadcast when they lowered the flag and played the National Anthem. Those were the days when programming ended at midnight. Guess I’m showing my age a bit.

Love of all things must be learned. Those times in school and at home when I was required to pay allegiance to that Flag planted a seed of honor and love for my country that has grown stronger through the years. As I raised our flag last Sunday morning I was again stunned by the amazing beauty of those stars and stripes against Oregon’s blue skies. I couldn’t help but say a prayer.

I was a bit saddened to consider that some children may never have the chance to learn what it feels like to have your heart tighten as you watch a color guard march by with Old Glory, or why all those men lower their caps and hats to their hearts as She passes by in those little local parades.

Flag Day ceremonies happened in Oregon without much pomp or fanfare, but as the flags are lowered and tucked away, we all respect the symbol of each fold. There are thirteen folds:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of veteran who gave a portion of life for defense of our country.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peach and 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 who protect our country and our flag against all enemies within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth 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, and to honor our mothers, 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 fathers, for giving their sons and daughters for the defense of our country.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, 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.

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 their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.” (legion.org)

Kay ‘s father died in January of 1980. At the funeral service the VFW presented her mother with the American flag that was draped over his coffin, an image she will never forget. The stars were looking upward.

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