A story of a man and his flag. Happy Veteran's Day Darling.

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards." ~Theodore Roosevelt~

My husband passed away on May 16th, 2010. He was 48 years old. He was USAF, United States Air Force, retired. He served our country for almost 22 years.

My husband was embroiled in a messy divorce, and all he wanted from his personal property was a flag. Not just any flag but his flag. A flag he fought for, a flag that he was awarded in a special ceremony on October 10, 1994, which also was his birthday. This was the day he was reenlisting in the Air Force. He stood on the U.S.S. Arizona with his father and his mother, and many members of the United States Armed Forces. He was going to take his Oath of Service beneath that flag that was raised high They had arranged the ceremony as a tribute not only for his father who was retired Navy, but all the veterans who had gone before or were to come after, their names are engraved in the wall at the east of the memorial. The flag was lowered respectfully slow. Folded precisely and escorted by a Staff Sergeant back to the squadron. It was a moment that characterized the type of patriotism felt not only by my husband but his father and all the other military men who stood there that day. The flag was later presented to my husband in a hand crafted display case created by a fellow service member in the Marine Corps that also felt the moment when he heard the story of the passing of the colors.

To my husband that was the day he pledged allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. He served for almost 22 years. He was so proud of that flag and his quest in life was to bring it back to his home, after that divorce. It held many memories for him, memories of all the time he spent in the military.

He would spend hours writing his letters, to lawyers, to congresssmen, to anyone who would listen to him, on how to have his flag returned to him.

My husband passed away before he could have his flag returned to him.

During the planning of his funeral, I was told that the local VFW would provide a flag for his services, to be draped over his casket. Well that would have been good enough for me, and I was praying that it would serve him well. I had no other choices left to me. I thought that would have been an honor, for it was a brand new flag, this one would hold memories for me. It might not be the same for him, but this one would be special to me.

When I walked into the funeral home for his visitation, there he lay in his uniform, with that flag draped over his casket. A true tribute for my fallen hero.

All the flowers were done in red, white and blue, splayed in brilliance surrounding him.

And then it happened, one of his sons who had travelled many miles to come to his father’s funeral came up to me and with tears in his eyes said, “I brought my Dad’s flag, do you mind if I put it in the casket?”

Of course I didn’t mind, his flag was going home with him. It was lovingly placed in his casket, that flag that he fought so hard for, that flag that he had dedicated his life for, that flag that he pledged alliegence to all those years. He finally had his flag.

 He was buried the next day at  Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood Illinois, with full military honors. What an impressive sight to behold. Taps played, amazing grace was played in the background by bagpipes. He received the 3-shot volley, The 3-volley salute is a ceremonial act performed at military funerals. It consists of a rifle party firing blank cartridges into the air three times. The custom originates from the European dynastic wars, where the fighting ceased so the dead and wounded could be removed. Then, three shots were fired into the air to signal that the battle could resume.

And then came the folding of the flag. Two members of the United States Air Force, two honor guards, men who were in the same branch of service as my husband, stood before me and folded the flag that draped over his casket. I did not know til much later, why they folded it thirteen times.

  • The first fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
  • The second fold of the flag is a symbol of the people's belief in the eternal life.
  • The third fold of the flag is made in honor and remembrance of the Veteran departing ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
  • The fourth fold of the flag represents the people's weaker nature. For as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him the people turn to in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
  • The fifth fold of the flag is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decauter, “Our country, in dealing with the other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong."
  • The sixth fold of the flag is for where people's hearts lie. It is with hearts that people 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 of the flag is a tribute to the Armed Forces, for it is through them that the people protect the country and flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of the Republic.
  • The eighth fold of the flag is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that people might see the light of day, and to honor one's mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
  • The ninth fold of the flag is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion the character of the men and women who have made the country great molded.
  • The tenth fold of the flag is a tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of the country since he or she was first born.
  • The eleventh fold of the flag, 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 of the flag, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  • Upon the thirteenth and final fold of the flag, the stars are uppermost in remembrance of the United States' national motto, “In God We Trust.”

The young man, honor guard knelt before me out in there in the blazing sun, sweat pouring down his face, never looking uncomfortable in his full dress uniform, but proud of having such an honor to bestow. He held the flag waist high with the straight edge facing me, and said words that will be forever imprinted into my memory,

“On behalf of the President of the United States and the people of a grateful nation, may I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service your loved one rendered this nation.”

Of course his name was said, but I will leave that out for personal reasons.

With tears streaming down my face I accepted that flag. I was taking it home with me, to forever remind me of the duty my husband provided for our country. After all he had his to take home with him, and now I had one to always have with me.

In the end he finally got his flag.

And in the end I got one showing how much that flag meant to him.

This is my tribute to tell him, thank you for serving our country, and thank you for pledging allegiance to that flag.

Happy Veteran’s Day Darling.

 

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Comments 13 comments

LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you Ghomefitness! Thank you for your kind words, and I am happy he did too!

Blessings.

Laurie


KillerIdeas profile image

KillerIdeas 6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

Laurie,

Another particularly moving hub. I have seldom seen the explanation of the thirteen folds outside of any military facilities. Your honesty and your willingness to face difficult subjects and share those thoughts with others, constantly amazes me.

AJ


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you AJ. :) I feel that he was the one that gave his life to our country, and that he deserved a tribute.

Thank you for your nice compliments and for taking the time to read my hub.

Blessings.

Laurie


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Oh my friend, tears are streaming down my face, what an honor to bestow upon your husband. They say behind any great man is a great women. You my dear gave him the gift of love and loyality that he so charished. Bless you and I am sorry for your loss. Your fan, Darski rate this hub up


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

What a beautiful hub. I am sorry for your loss but I am proud of your husband who gave so much to our country that we shall remain free. You told your story so well and it brought a lump to my throat. Cheeers to you.


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you my friend Darlene! With Veteran's Day coming up I felt a tribute was needed for him. He is sorely missed and he loved this upcoming Holiday. Thank you for your kind words! It is never easy losing a loved one, but I find comfort in knowing that he is up there smiling down.

Blessings.

Laurie


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you LadyJane. :) Thank you for your kind comments, and I too am very proud of the service he provided for our country, and with the upcoming Veteran's Day I have been thinking of all of them, veterans, and active duty.

Thank you again.

Blessings,

Laurie


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Thank you for sharing this personal, and deeply moving tribute. ...and welcome to HubPages - I am sure you will do well here!


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you RedElf. :) Thank you for your compliments and thank you for taking the time to welcome me.

It is a pleasure to "meet" you.

Blessings,

Laurie


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain

This is a nice tribute to your late husband and I enjoyed learning about the meaning of the folds they put in the flag at funerals.


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

Thank you Maggs. :) Thank you for stopping by and it is a pleasure to "meet" you.

I learned so many things from him, and it is a pleasure to pass that knowledge along.

Blessings,

Laurie


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 6 years ago from Missouri

I didn't realize what I was getting myself into when I started reading this piece. I am moved by your strength, Laurie.

How beautiful and just that your husband's son brought his father's flag to him at last.

We lost my father-in-law three years ago, and attended his funeral for a marine. It was truly the most memorable and moving experience I have ever been witness to. I don't know of any greater show of appreciation for a fallen soldier than to honor them with our respect and our thanks!

Thank You for this. ~Scarlett


LaurieDawn profile image

LaurieDawn 6 years ago Author

There is no greater tribute than our fallen soilders honored at a military funeral. And to always be remembered every time I see a flag waving in the breeze. And I am glad my husband finally did get his flag. I would love to think of him smiling down from the heavens watching over us and every time I see a flag fly, I shall think of him.

Thank you Scarlett for your loving words.

Blessings, and hugs,

Laurie

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