My Patriotic Duty – As a veteran, I know.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.
Meaning of the Flag Draped Coffin:
All Americans should be given this lesson. Those who think that America is an arrogant nation should really reconsider that thought. Our founding fathers used GOD’s word and teachings to establish our Great Nation and I think it’s high time Americans get re-educated about this Nation’s history.
Pass it along and be proud of the country we live in and even more proud of those who serve to protect our ‘GOD GIVEN’ rights and freedoms.
I hope you take the time to read this … To understand what the flag draped coffin really means … Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.
Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to the 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 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
The 8th 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.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. 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 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations 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 them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
In the future, you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.
Coins on a tombstone
COINS LEFT ON TOMBSTONES
While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave.
These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America’s military, and these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.
A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.
A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed.
According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.
In the US, this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier’s family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.
Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a “down payment” to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.
The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men and women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.
The origin of “TAPS”
Taps was composed in July 1862 at Harrison’s Landing in Virginia.
How the call came into being was never anything more than one influential soldier deciding his unit could use a bugle call for particular occasions and setting about to come up with one.
If anyone can be said to have composed ‘Taps,’ it was Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the American Civil War. Dissatisfied with the customary firing of three rifle volleys at the conclusion of burials during battle and also wanting a less harsh bugle call for ceremonially signaling the end of a soldier’s day, he likely altered an older piece known as “Tattoo,” a French bugle call used to signal “lights out,” into the call we now know as ‘Taps.’
Summoning his brigade’s bugler, Private Oliver Willcox Norton, to his tent one evening in July 1862, Butterfield (whether he wrote ‘Taps’ straight from the cuff or improvised something new by rearranging an older work) worked with the bugler to transform the melody into its present form. As Private Norton later wrote of that occasion:
General Daniel Butterfield … showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for ‘Taps’ thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring brigades, asking for copies of the music, which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac.
‘Taps’ was quickly taken up by both sides of the conflict, and within months was being sounded by buglers in both Union and Confederate forces.
Then as now, ‘Taps’ serves as a vital component in ceremonies honoring military dead. It is also understood by American servicemen as an end-of-day ‘lights out’ signal.
When “Taps” is played at a military funeral, it is customary to salute if in uniform, or place your hand over your heart if not.
Day is done
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
To the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
God is nigh.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun.
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know
God is nigh.
Tomb of the Unknown soldier
As a society, we have long observed traditional, solemn funeral ceremonies as a means of remembering, honoring and mourning those who has passed on from this life to whatever lies beyond. As a nation, we observe some very formalized rituals as a means of affording our very highest honors to members of the armed forces who have died in the service of their country, particularly those who have fallen in wartime. Military funerals with honor guards, flag-draped coffins, salutes, and burials in cemeteries set aside for veterans are all symbols by which we honor and acknowledge our gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
There is perhaps no more potent symbol of this sacrifice than the “unknown soldier,” the serviceman who has died in combat but whose remains are not identifiable. He cannot be returned to his home, his friends and loved ones cannot know for certain how or when (or even if) he died, he cannot be placed to rest in a site of his own choosing. He remains, perpetually, a soldier who not only gave up his life for his country, but his very identity as well. That loss of identity makes the unknown soldier a powerful symbol, however – because he is no longer and individual, he stands for the purest ideals of courage, valor, and sacrifice and serves as a noble and selfless representation of service to one’s country.
We acknowledge our unidentified fallen heroes with a special place of reverence in our most honored of burial grounds: the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the tomb of the Unknown Soldier) in Arlington National Cemetery, where in 1921 we first laid to rest “In Honored Glory An American soldier Known But To God.” Although we cannot inter all of our unidentified war dead in Arlington, we nonetheless honor them all by including the remains of three representative soldiers of unknown identity who died in foreign wars (World War 1, World War II, and the Korean War) there.
The most visible honorific symbol associated with the Tomb of the Unknowns is that the site is guarded around the clock, every day of the year, by specially trained members of the Third United States Infantry Regiment (also known as the “Old Guard”). The Sentinels who guard the Tomb must be exemplary in discipline, dress, and bearing; thoroughly knowledgeable with the history of the unit, the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery (and those interred there), and the U.S.Army; and able to execute a variety of ceremonial rites flawlessly and with precision.
The guards take 21 steps across a black mat during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns. 21 steps alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
At the end of 21 steps, (same reason as above) with a crisp 90 degree turn to face east for 21 seconds. He then makes another sharp 90 degree turn to face north for 21 seconds. A crisp “shoulder-arms” movement places the rifle on the shoulder nearest the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat.
After the moment, the sentinel paces 21 steps north, turns and repeats the process.
The gloves of the sentinel are always moist to prevent his losing his grip on his rifle.
From 1926 to 1937, the Tomb was guarded only during daylight hours. Ever since 1937, the Tomb has been continuously guarded 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Tomb guards are changed every thirty minutes between 8 AM and 7 PM during the period from April 1 to September 30, and every hour between 8 AM to 5 PM the rest of the year. At all other times (while the cemetery is closed,) the guard is changed every 2 hours.
Physical traits of guards: Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet 4 inches tall, with a proportionate weight and build.
Once a sentinel has completed his or her training, he or she is examined formally for proficiency in performing the duties and in knowledge of Arlington National Cemetery. He or she must first pass a written examination of 100 questions about Arlington National Cemetery and then be evaluated on proficiency in keeping watch at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A guard must memorize the location and details of the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Upon successful completion, the soldier is awarded a temporary Tomb Guard’s Badge at a ceremony presided over by the company commander. The Badge is one of the Army’s higher honors and can be taken away from the soldier if he or she does not continue to maintain the highest military standards.
The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is one of the least awarded badges in the Army, second only to the Astronaut Badge. Since the sentinels are held to such a high standard, if they ever do anything that is deemed behavior unbecoming a Tomb Guard or brings dishonor upon the Tomb, their badges may be revoked, even after they have left active duty military service.
The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards spend 5 hours preparing their uniforms and dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.
The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes polished to a high gloss. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand so that his back is straight and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is the Sentinel can “roll” on the outside of the build up as he walks down the mat. this allows him to move in a fluid fashion. If he does this correctly, his hat and bayonet will appear to not “bob” up and down with each step. It gives him a more formal and smooth look to his walk, rather than a “marching” appearance.
The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a “horseshoe” steel plate on the heel. this prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.
Notable Individuals who have served as Sentinels include Howard Taft (President), Joe Louis (Prizefighter) and Audie Murphy (Actor). All distinguished themselves in the military service to their country.
Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to, the symbol of ‘Liberty and Freedom.’
The Pledge of Allegiance:
“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1892 to 1923
“I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1923 to 1924
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1924 to 1954
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
1954 to Present
“I 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.”
Comedian Red Skelton Explains the Pledge of Alliegience: Red Skelton Pledge