California Correctional Center’s Veterans in Prison group holds flag-folding ceremony

The Veterans in Prison group honored those who are missing or killed in action as well as those who are held as prisoners of war.

The Veterans in Prison group honored those who are missing or killed in action as well as those who are held as prisoners of war.

By Lt. Aaron Yderraga, AA/Public Information Officer
California Correctional Center

In honor of Memorial Day, the California Correctional Center’s (CCC) Veterans in Prison group recently conducted a flag-folding ceremony.

The ceremony, which was attended by members of the public and CCC’s management team, consisted of an introduction and opening prayer.  Next the group conducted a POW/MIA Table Setting Remembrance Service (Fallen Comrade Table) in memory of the nation’s fallen, missing or imprisoned military service-members.

Afterword, the group slowly folded the flag while reciting its meaning and the significance of each of the 13 folds.  The ceremony concluded with the flag being presented to Warden Suzanne Peery followed by the playing of Taps.  The affair was well represented and left the attendees with a new appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country.

Why 13 folds?

While the original folding of the flag held no special significance, over time, significance has been placed on each fold. According to traditional flag etiquette, “before an American flag is stored or presented, its handlers should twice fold it in half lengthwise; then (from the end opposite the blue field) make a triangular fold, continuing to fold it in triangles until the other end is reached. This makes a triangular ‘pillow’ of the flag with only the blue starred field showing on the outside, and it takes 13 folds to produce: two lengthwise folds and 11 triangular folds.”

Rumor holds the 13 folds originated in the U.S. Air Force, which isn’t true. “Though there are no official ceremonies in the Air Force that require a script to be read when a flag is folded, unofficial ceremonies such as retirements often do, said Lt. Col. Samuel Hudspath, Air Force protocol chief.”

The Veterans in Prison group fold the flag.

The Veterans in Prison group fold the flag.

The most common meaning used today for the 13 folds:

  • 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 fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn to 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 women who have made this country great have been molded.
  • The 10th 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 11th 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 12fth 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.” (Wait for the Honor Guard or Flag Detail to inspect the flag–after the inspection, resume reading.)

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 us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.


13 Responses

  1. Patricia Mora Wednesday, June 29, 2016 / 7:14 am

    Wow! What the folding of the Flag means is breath taking! That was beautiful. I never knew that. I will always think about it and know it when i see the flag being folded. I love that the folding of the flag involve God our Heavenly Father. Amen! I am proud to be Mexican-American.

  2. Connie Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    I am proud to be an American and a Christian. Where else in the world can you live and have the right to choose your own beliefs and freedoms. I am proud of our brave men and women for providing us with the comfort of knowing that we can sleep safe tonight and they are standing watch over us. Our Flag is a symbol of sacrifice’s made by those men and women who fought so bravely for our freedom. We need to honor those brave Americans and stand united to bring back our great Nation. We are the people!

    • Patricia Mora Wednesday, June 29, 2016 / 7:16 am


  3. D. Hansen Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    Thank you J. Carrillo, spoken very eloquently.

    The freedoms of this Country allow us to feel and express beliefs as we so choose. However, there will always be caveats. This Country was founded on BELIEFS and prior to its inception, was a land settled by Europeans that fled religious persecution, who were very religious themselves. The Constitution provisions our liberties, rights, and freedoms to believe as we so choose. The thought of atheism was not a prevalent institution set upon the founding of this Country. Barbara, you do have the liberty, right, and freedom to choose not to believe, but that is the only provision set forth. The Constitution still remains the prevailing framework of this Country and will remain vested in BELIEF.

    Church and State, is an argument that continues to undermine and diminish the value of this great Nation and the Beliefs set forth by the founders of this Country. The founding and birth of this Country was created out of the pressures of inclusion and exclusion of personal interest that were rejected from the established norms of the British Crown and other existing European Countries.

    The preamble of this Country is “We the People,” not “We the Individual.”

  4. bob sanders Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 11:54 am

    I just read the Constitution. Thank god for the First Amendment that allows me to believe in anything I want, as it is people who assign significance, not the government

  5. Melissa Espino Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 11:04 am

    Awesome….I love that! Beautiful.

  6. Delbert Wallace Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 10:25 am

    Thank God for the rememberance of this Nation’s foundation.

    • Melissa Espino Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 11:04 am

      Yes! Thank God.

  7. Vernon Barrett Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 9:45 am

    It has been that way from the beginning, I learned it while I was in basic myself.

  8. Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 9:04 am

    Wow. I never knew that. The meanings of the folding of the flag are beautiful. Made my day.

  9. Barbara Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 8:57 am

    Why do so many of these folds have a religious based meaning? What happened to separation of church & state? Being a very patriotic atheist I hate reading the significance associated with each fold. My husband (also atheist & veteran) recently died & his coffin was covered with a flag during the ceremony at the veteran’s cemetary where he was laid to rest. The flag was folded & presented to me. When I saw an article about the signifance of each fold I was excited to read it….until I did, very disappointing. We have citizens of all faiths (and no faith) in this country so assigning religious significance to patriotic symbols does not accurately reflect our citizenship….hence the separation of church & state.

    • J. Carrillo Tuesday, June 28, 2016 / 12:05 pm

      The article indicates that the meanings listed are the most common; however, it does not indicate that they are the ONLY meanings. You are entitled to feel like church and state should be separated, but it appears what is causing you to feel “hate” and to find this article “disappointing” is simply because it is at odds with your personal perspective as a person of no faith, which is a choice to which you are entitled, even though your point about the separation of church and state is irrelevant as the article doesn’t indicate the state or federal government specifically endorsed any of the meanings listed in the article. The majority of our country are people of faith, primarily Christian, so I’m not sure how government pretending faith doesn’t exist just to cater to the minority group that is entitled to claim no faith can possibly “accurately reflect our citizenship”. This is like saying that if you held up a mirror to an elephant and the mirror somehow only reflected the ear that you’d think that was an accurate reflection of the whole elephant just because that happens to be the part of the elephant you find appealing.

    • Derrick Patrick Friday, July 1, 2016 / 2:52 pm

      Thank you J. Carrillo, couldn’t have said it better myself.

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