This came to me in an e-mail and I wanted to share with you all. I never knew that the folds of the flag from a soldier’s coffin had specific meanings–did you? This is something that is too odd–and too rare–not to share and make people aware of.

When I had a Girl Scout troop, I studied up on how to dispose of the flag honorably. Thankfully, one of my co-leaders was a Girl Scout through and though and new everything by heart. We had a flag burning ceremony and distributed the ashes to our scouts in small, round film canisters (that’s how long ago it’s been–you could still by film for your camera!) But I never knew about the folds of the flag.

So today, that’s what my blog post is about. A ritual that we must never forget or lose sight of; one that honors the fallen, but one that has specific meaning in each fold of the flag that is finally handed to a loved one.

Flag draped coffin 1

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 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.

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?

Flag draped coffin 2

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.



Flag draped coffin 3 (first fold)




The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.


Flag draped coffin 4 (2nd fold)




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.

Flag draped coffin 5 (3rd fold)





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.

Flag draped coffin 6 (4th fold)




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.’

Flag draped coffin 7 (5th fold)




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..

Flag draped coffin 8 (7th fold)




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.

Flag draped coffin 9 (8th fold)




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.

Flag draped coffin 10 (10th fold)



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.

Flag draped coffin 11 (11th fold)



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.’

Flag draped coffin 12 (13th fold) last pic



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.

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.

In the future, you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.

Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to, the symbol of ‘ Liberty and Freedom.’


Flag draped coffin final graffic

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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28 thoughts on “THE MEANING OF THE FLAG-DRAPED COFFIN–by Cheryl Pierson”

    • Hi Margaret!

      You’re welcome. I’m very glad to share patriotic things like this. I think a lot of people (like me!) have no clue about this kind of symbolism. It’s not “taught” anywhere–unless you are in the military.


  1. Actually, those traditions were added much later. (I’m an old navy veteran.) Of course, that doesn’t make them any less real or valid! But they are not the original reason the flag was folded that way 🙂

    There are other versions and scriptures used by other groups for other occassions.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Cheryl. Our beautiful flag is a beautiful sight whether flying high and waving in the breeze or covering the last resting place of a loved one . My heart swells every time I see it.

    • Melanie, I agree! I love our flag, and was so glad to get this e-mail letting us know what each precious fold means–I just knew I had to use it as a blog. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I always wondered what it meant the folding of your flag at military funerals. I think anything that is part of ones Country history, especially when it is a great symbol of that country, should be taught to all it’s citizens. Especially has it has been found and died over for freedom. Like the US, Canada does not teach enough of our history to it’s children. Thanks for sharing this information, it was fascinating.

    • Kathleen, I am amazed at how low patriotism drops from time to time, and how much it has gone down since our parents’ generation. The history taught in schools is barely enough to scratch the surface. If I had kids in school right now, I would be sorely tempted to homeschool them for that very reason. Thanks for your comment, dear friend!

    • Paty, I wish things like this were at least discussed in school–unless kids belong to organizations like Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts they have no chance of knowing anything much at all about our flag and the history of it.

  4. Cheryl, how absolutely fascinating! My father was a veteran and he had a flag draped casket , with the flag folded and given to my mom…now all these years later,, I know the significance. Thanks for a great post!

    • Tanya, I’m so glad I posted this! I think if everyone knew the significance, it would mean so much. As it is, we watch the military personnel do it and think…”Hmmm. Wonder why they fold it that way?”

  5. Thank you so much for the reminder. My father was a veteran of the Second World was, Commander of the American Legion and very patriotic. He made sure his children knew and respected the flag. I am the proud owner of the flag that draped his coffin.

  6. I forgot to say – the 21 gun salute predates the American Revolution by several decades. Although the date thing is a nice coincidence! Actually, other nations adopted the 21 gun salute well before the US – who finally agreed in the late 1800’s. I’d have to look up the date. My military training was a long time ago :0

  7. Hi Cheryl! Thank you so much for sharing this special post. We have started homeschooling this year and I am printing this and adding it to my files.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it fitting you chose this time of celebrating our National Anthem that honors our flag to give us this wonderful lesson in the meaning of the folds. Christianity is so ingrained in our history and to see it as part of the folds for a fallen soldier is so meaningful. I’ll never look at that folded flag of a friend who served in Korea the same.

    • Martha, I agree–I will never look at a folded flag the same, either. It is VERY meaningful, isn’t it? I’m so glad I was able to share this with everyone. It means a lot.

  9. I knew there was a meaning but didn’t know exactly what it meant. I am from a family of people who served and I have always respected the flag and our country. I respect the offices of president, representative and senator but I don’t always respect the person. I was taught respect the uniform if not the person. This translated into teachers and bosses. We need to teach this to our children today as not many seem to want to teach respect. I’m ranting. Thanks for the post and all it’s information.

    • I agree with you, Connie. We should respect the office of president, etc. even if we disagree with the person who holds that office. Flag etiquette is something that is not taught at all. It’s a shame. There should be a chapter on that in history classes. How can kids respect something they don’t understand and know nothing about?

  10. Very informative post, Cheryl, one I will have to show my husband. As a veteran, he is very concerned about a flag being folded properly when he attends an occasion to witness it. I’m not sure he has ever learned the symbolic meaning of very fold as detailed in your post, but he takes to heart the flag of the United States being a symbol of this great country.

  11. Have done many flag ceremonies and folded the flag (and taught it) many times over the years. I never did hear this explanation. I will have to share this with my husband the retired AF person and see if he has heard this. It is certainly something to think about when folding the flag.
    Thank you for the informative post.

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