Skip to comments.Learning the facts by folding the flag
Posted on 01/16/2011 8:47:27 AM PST by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA Its not just a matter of raising the American flag in the morning and lowering it in the late afternoon, or using it to drape the casket of a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or veteran.
There are rules based on traditions incorporated into law when it comes to Old Glory, the Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard noncommissioned officer leader said.
Saturday afternoon, about an hour before the daily retreat ceremony, Sgt. 1st Class James Weathers talked to a number of scouts girls and boys about the ceremonies involving the American flag.
There is a lot of symbolism when it comes to the national banner, he told the scouts primarily from Girl Scout Troop 662 and Boy Scout Troop 408.
Helping him demonstrate the proper way the flag is handled, folded and presented as part of a military funeral were Sgt. Andrew Crawford of the 18th Military Police Detachment, and Pfc. Sara Fleming of the 11th Signal Brigade. They and others, except for Weathers the only permanent person assigned to the honor guard are assigned to the special function for six months.
During a funeral, the flag is only touched by gloved soldiers, who with slow precision use 13 folds to end up with a blue and white triangle, which represents the tri-corner hat of the Colonial soldiers, he said.
There never can be red or white, except for stars, showing once the flag has been folded to be presented to the fallen service members family, Weathers said.
When the flag is presented, the part of it which is given to the next-of-kin must have two stars on the top and four on the bottom which the family member sees, as the words expressing the gratitude of the nation is said by the presenter.
Crawford recited those words during the teaching session.
At a funeral, every command for the flag folding is done silently, a look, a nod of the head, some hand movements and sometimes a whisper so low no one except the flag folders can hear it, so the other soldiers in the detail know at what point the ceremony is at all times, Weathers said.
Putting a special bugle to his lips, one with the recording of Taps, which emanates from it, the platoon sergeant even increased the somberness of the lesson.
Weathers said when his two-year assignment as the platoon sergeant is up soon, he estimates he will have taken part in more than 1,200 funerals, noting that in calendar year 2010, he had been to 512 funerals.
Before the demonstration began, the children and adults were engaged in lively discussions, but once Weathers began and asked the audience to stand, as they would at a funeral, the dropping of the proverbial pin could have been heard.
After the demonstration, the scouts and their adult leaders went to the main fort flagpole, where they witnessed the formal evening retreat and saw how other members of the honor guard did their duties.
Jadzia Caparulo, 15, who is a member of the Buena High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, said what she found interesting was the different meaning of each fold.
She said she has had some training on flag etiquette, but having it explained more makes it both more interesting and important.
For 10-year-old Aaron Wallace, he was interested in the flags history and the importance of how to treat the national emblem with respect.
In the past, he said, he and others folded the flag, and when it was done, red and white were showing, not blue and white.
We did it wrong, but now I know how to do it right, he said.
The Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard is responsible for ceremonies on the fort and for military-related funerals in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California.
During Fiscal Year 2010, the 23-member special unit took part in 372 funerals in its area of responsibility, of which seven were for active-duty, 114 military retirees and 251 military veterans, for an average of 31 a month. The Select Honor Guard also supported 52 other events, such as parades and 10 special cannon support operations.
Source: Post Public Affairs Office
Sgt. Andrew Crawford and Pfc. Sara Fleming hold the American flag as
Sgt. 1st. Class James E. Weathers talks to scouts about the proper way
to fold a flag Saturday on Fort Huachuca. (Melissa Marshall Herald/Review)
Hubby and I were watching a Travel Channel special on Mount Rushmore. During the summer months, at sunset every day, they have a special flag service during which they invite all the veterans in the audience to come up on stage and state their name and branch and dates of service. Beautiful ceremony. Then they retire the colors and have the veterans participate in folding the flag. Travel Channel filmed this part of the service. They folded the flag wrong, and it ended up with stripes out. None of the vets up on the stage stopped them. Sad, really. Both Hubby and I would have, whether they were filming or not. My dad would have stopped the service and given a flag folding lesson right there. When we visited Rushmore, we stopped at the visitor’s center and told the ranger about the “oops” because they’re playing that clip at Rushmore as an advertisement. Least they can do is get it right. I can’t believe in all the viewings of that video, nobody noticed or said anything.