Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

Today is July the 4th.  A day that is often filled with family gatherings, food, parades, and reflection.  This year is no different.

Although there will be no fireworks this year due to the extreme fire danger, there will be gatherings. But, in the case of veteran families, someone will be missing at the dinner table.  Someone who has served our country and laid their life on the line for yours....someone who served in the Military.

Recently, a family member passed away unexpectedly.  This family member came to us through the marriage between my son and his wife.  We knew of this   man's genius in software development, his kind and quiet side consistently providing service to others without fanfare, and his love for his sweet family.  However, it wasn't until his passing that I learned that he had also served 2 tours  in Vietnam.  I was sad that I did not know this until he had passed away.

At the grave site, the Honor Guard was present.  I was deeply touched by the deep tradition of reverence, and respect paid to this veteran.  In researching this tradition, I found the Following from the Department of Defense:

What can the family of an eligible veteran expect? The core elements of the funeral honors ceremony, which will be conducted are:
- Flag folding
- Flag presentation
- Playing of Taps

The veteran’s parent Service representative will present the flag. 

A member of the Honor Guard related a verse that appeared to include the following words...

On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, or Air Force), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service

The flag is folded 13 times, and each fold has a meaning:

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 the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world. 
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time 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 ourRepublic. 
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 mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day. 
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded. 
The tenth fold is a tribute to the 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 Spirit. 
When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation's 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.

We do live in a nation founded in Christian noted in the meaning of the folding of the flag.

On this Fourth of July, please reflect on the sacrifice and service of our men and women in the Military.  They deserve our respect and action.  It is an election is our right and responsibility to elect those who will protect our nation just as these brave individuals do.  

Read, reflect, become informed, thank a service member....and Act!

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