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THE AMERICAN FLAG

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By Trishna Buch
The American flag is one of the most important
artifacts in our nation. With its 50 stars and
13 stripes, it flies majestically above several
buildings in our cities. But the American flag is
not just a flag; it is a representation of—according
to State Symbols USA—the “American identity
and national pride.” It represents all of the
struggles and sacrifices people have made to
make this country what it is today. It represents
the idea that every US resident has a different
background and a different story, but that they
all came to the country to make better lives for
themselves and their families.
And, along with the flag itself, the stars,
stripes and colors each have their own symbolizations.
According to State Symbols USA, the
50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes
represent the 13 colonies, the white is a representation
of purity and innocence, the red is
a representation of valor and bravery and the
blue is a representation of vigilance, perseverance
and justice. So, if you think about it (and
analyze things the way I like to) the colors on
the flag represent the best of the American
people.
Since the flag is such an important artifact,
it may seem unsurprising that there is also a
proper protocol one has to follow when committing
certain activities with the flag—such
as folding it or retiring it. I was interested, not
only to learn about these protocols, but also to
learn and understand what each fold of the flag
represented. So I went online and did some
research.
The Smithsonian National Air And Space
Museum discussed the proper way to fold the
flag. According the website, the flag is folded
13 times to represent the 13 colonies and stated
that—after folding is completed—the flag will
be seen in a triangular fashion. Furthermore,
the American Legion website discussed the
symbolizations of each flag fold. According to
the website, the first fold represents life, the
second fold represents belief in eternal life,
the third fold represents the honor and remembrance
of “the veterans departing our ranks,
and who gave a portion of his or life for the
defense of our country to attain peace throughout
the world,” the fourth fold represents the
Americans weak nature and the fact that we
turn to God in times of trouble, the fifth fold
represents a tribute to the country, the sixth
fold represents where our hearts lie, the seventh
fold represents a tribute to armed forces,
the eighth fold represents those who “entered
the valley of the shadow of the death, that we
might see the light of day, and to honor our
mother”, the ninth fold represents a tribute to
womanhood, the tenth fold represents a tribute
to the father, the eleventh fold represents
“the lower portion of the seal of King David and
King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the
God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob,” the twelfth
fold represents “in the eyes of a Christian citizen,
an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in
their eyes, God the Father, the Son and the
Holy Ghost.” The thirteenth fold, which is seen
in the completely folded flag, sees the stars in
the uppermost position and reminds us of the
nation’s motto “In God We Trust.” If you would
like to learn more about what each fold represents
and the meaning behind each fold, go
online to airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/
meaning-behind-folding-american-flag or www.
legion.org/flag/folding

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