It was a late afternoon and like so many afternoons before, there they were sitting on the front porch. Although they would never admit to it, for both of them this was their favorite part of the day.
He was so fortunate that his only grandson would stop over after school each day to visit him. Many of his friends would always tell him how lucky he was that his grandson was willing to spend time with him. In today's world of computers and video games, he knew just how fortunate he was.
He was not like any of his classmates. Sure, he liked to play video games and play with his friends. However, there was always something special waiting for him when he visited his Grandpa. Whether it was ice cream, chocolate cake or a great adventurous story told by his Grandpa, it was all good. He would never admit it to anyone, but he loved every minute spent with his Grandfather.
The sun was slowly setting on an early May afternoon. It was quite warm out, too soon for this time of the month. No matter, warm weather brought special treats like lemonade and ice cream cones.
They had just finished eating their ice cream cones on the porch. He was sitting on the top stair while his Grandpa was sitting in his old rocking chair - rocking back and forth. Just then, a gentle breeze filled the stoop.
Like so many days before, he would ask his Grandpa a question and he would always have an answer, filled with wisdom. One day he asked him why the sky was blue, another day it was what makes the grass grow, and a few weeks back it was how do fireflies light up.
Sitting on the step he looked up at his Grandpa's flag as it gently moved back and forth. In school that day, he had learned where the wind came from.
Wanting to stump his Grandpa, he asked, "Grandpa, what makes the flag wave?"
His Grandpa just sat there rocking to and fro on his old rocking chair. The boy sat quietly, knowing that his Grandpa was considering the question...
A smile slowly crept across the little boy's face as time passed by. He thought that he had finally befuddled his Grandpa. Just as he was about to tell him about molecules and water vapor, his Grandpa stopped rocking.
Looking up at the flag, his Grandpa began to speak, "It was back in 1824 when a young man named William Driver was given a new American flag by his mother. You see he was a sea captain and his ma wanted something to accompany him on his journeys. He dubbed that flag 'Old Glory.' Well, Grandson, ever since then - Old Glory has been on many, many journeys.
“She led the boys fighting for their freedoms through the country sides of Virginia and Tennessee during the Civil War. She gave hope to our boys in World War I; in places like Belgium, France and Germany.
“Old Glory was a comfort to many people during World War II, while we fought against many evils. On February 23, 1945, five brave United States Marines and one U.S. Navy corpsman raised her on top of Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima.
“She was nearly forgotten about when she flew for our young men in Korea. Moreover, she was spit upon during Vietnam. She has held the strength of all who served under her in places like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
“Old glory, well...she has been draped across too many coffins of all the soldiers who served under her. Her folded body has been given to wives, mothers, fathers and children like you - in honor of a grateful nation."
The boy sat quietly. He was so taken back at his Grandpa's response he didn't know what to say. He just looked up at the flag as it rode the waves of the gentle May breeze. A few moments later, his Grandpa continued...
"My boy, it is not the wind that makes our flag fly. It's not the gentle breeze felt in the summer and it's not the cold winds of winter; that make her wave. No... no..."
He watched as his Grandpa reached into the back pocket of his trousers to grab his handkerchief. His Grandpa wiped his eyes and then his nose. He then stood up and put his handkerchief back into his pocket.
He watched as his Grandpa pointed to the flag and then heard him say...
"Old glory there... well she waves and flies like that as a result of...
Well, from the last breath of every soldier who died protecting her and fighting for our freedoms."
(This article was printed in the May-June 2018 15th Annual Memorial Day Honors Special issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)
The Honor And Respect
of The Folded Flag
One can not see the casket of a fallen soldier as their body is brought home for it is cloaked with the stars and stripes of our Nation's flag. All eyes are upon the fallen as the honor guard precisely removes old glory and begins to fold her...
The first fold... of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold... is a symbol of our
belief in the eternal life.
The third fold... is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The forth fold... represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn too in times of peace as well as in times 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 our republic.
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, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and the women who have made this country great have been molded.
The tenth fold... is a tribute to 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 Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, 'In God We Trust.'
When 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 that we enjoy today.
* This is one of many United States flag-folding ceremonies. Please note that there is no official flag-folding ceremony.
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