Theodore's World: Flag-folding Recitation Banned At Vets Cemeteries Nationwide

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October 30, 2007

Flag-folding Recitation Banned At Vets Cemeteries Nationwide

The recitation of the 13 folds of the U.S. flag can no longer be made at national cemeteries. Veterans and honor detail volunteers, such as Bobby Castillo, 85, left, and Rees Lloyd, 59, are furious.

After complaint in Riverside, flag-folding recitation banned at veterans cemeteries nationwide

Through thousands of military burials, Memorial Honor Detail volunteers at Riverside National Cemetery have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors of those being laid to rest.

The first fold, a narrator tells relatives, represents life, the second a belief in eternal life.

The 11th fold celebrates Jewish war veterans and "glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."

A single complaint lodged against the words for the 11th fold recently prompted the National Cemetery Administration to ban the entire recital at all 125 national cemeteries.

A spokesman in Washington said the complaint originated from someone who witnessed the ceremony at Riverside National but would provide no other details and declined to release the directive banning the flag-folding recital, saying it was "an internal working document not meant for public distribution."

Veterans are furious. Story continues below Joe Vargo / The Press-Enterprise The recitation of the 13 folds of the U.S. flag can no longer be made at national cemeteries. Veterans and honor detail volunteers, such as Bobby Castillo, 85, left, and Rees Lloyd, 59, are furious.

"That the actions of one disgruntled, whining, narcissistic and intolerant individual is preventing veterans from getting the honors they deserve is truly an outrage," said Rees Lloyd, 59, a Vietnam-era veteran and Memorial Honor Detail volunteer. "This is another attempt by secularist fanatics to cleanse any reference to God."
World War II Navy sailor Bobby Castillo, 85, another member of Memorial Honor Detail 12, called the federal decision "a slap in the face to every veteran."
"When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Castillo, who was wounded in 1944 as he supported the Allied landings in France. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."

The pair, part of a team that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 services, said they were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks when workers in a staff car came up to them and stopped them.

Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict, even if it means being kicked out of cemeteries.
"This is nuts," Waters, a Korean War veteran, said in a telephone interview from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."

Washington's Explanation

Mike Nacincik, the spokesman for the National Cemetery Administration, said the new policy, which was outlined in a Sept. 27 memo, is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system.
He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government approved. After the complaint made its way through government channels, Steve Muro, director of field operations, wrote the new policy.
Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity.
"We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."
As for comments that the edict is an attack on religious beliefs, Nacincik said, "People are going to have their own views on that."

He said the flag-folding narrative can be read but only if families make arrangements on their own and do not use cemetery workers, which include volunteers. The U.S. government owns Riverside National, the most active national cemetery in the country with more than 8,000 burials of veterans and immediate family members each year.

A Jewish Perspective

Rabbi Yitzhak Miller, of Riverside's Temple Beth El, said he understands the government's decision to ban the recitation but believes it is a quick solution to a complex issue.

"It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."
Miller said the 11th fold, and the 12th fold, which refers to the Christian Trinity -- "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost -- amounts to an endorsement of Judaism and Christianity. He said he would like to see a reference to "God as we understand God" mentioned in the ritual but without endorsing any specific tradition.
"To acknowledge those two without acknowledging others denigrates the patriotic men and women of other faiths who serve our country," he said.

Family Wishes

Lloyd and Castillo said they always speak to families before providing military honors to their loved ones. Honors include a rifle salute, the playing of taps and the folding of the flag. Some families don't want any honors; others decline specific parts of the ceremony. Those wishes are paramount and are always respected.
Lloyd said the 16 members of the Memorial Honor Detail he serves on have distributed hundreds of copies of the script they recite while folding the flag. They've received dozens of letters thanking them, and several mention in particular the flag-folding recitation. But now presenting families that memento isn't allowed under the directive.
Lloyd, a member of the state American Legion, said he knows Riverside National Cemetery workers are just obeying orders. The real battle is with Washington.
"We're going to fight this tooth and nail, hammer and boot," he said

Wild Thing's comment........

This is appalling. It’s such a beautiful ceremony, too.

I bet the jerk that bitched was not a member of the immediate family. God bless them in this fight against the enemy within. The ultimate sacrifice of a soldier for his country deserves the highest honor and humility by us all. That it is not enough to compensate for what that individual has done for God and country.

And I WANT A NAME, A FACE, I want to know who the person was that complained. When something is changed like this, I DEMAND we have information on this jerk. Why protect this asswipe! GRRRRRRRRRRRRR Since WHEN is the voice of ONE more important than the voices of the Many?

Flag folds

These meanings, not part of the U.S. Flag Code, have been ascribed to the 13 folds of American flags at veterans burial services:

1. Symbol of life.

2. Symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

3. In honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

4. Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

5. 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."

6. Represents 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.

7. A tribute to our armed forces.

8. A tribute to the one who entered in to 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.

9. A tribute to womanhood.

10. A tribute to father.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust."

.....Thank you Jack for sending this to me. Conservative Insurgent is Jack's wonderful blog.

Posted by Wild Thing at October 30, 2007 12:40 AM


This is crap. Why are the letting one person affect hundreds of thousands?

Posted by: BobF at October 30, 2007 07:13 AM

So, one son-of-a-bitch complains and bureaucrats panic. I agree with Wild Thing. The complaintant needs to be made public. It would not surprise me if he turned out to be a professional protester. Either make his name available, so he can be stomped, or ignore his complaint.

Posted by: TomR at October 30, 2007 09:19 AM

Thank you WT. Maybe this is why the visble display of the inscription of the motto on the obelisk of the Washington Monument also has been changed , The National Park Service deleting the words LAUS DEO. Praise be to God (Latin) from the public display. I'm sick of the pandering to the least common denominator in the interests of PC, which is nothing more than the athiest agenda of the Communists who are disguising themselves as liberals, progressives , even Democrats. I think it's more of the action of the caretakers than the actions of a single complainant. Both should be strung up!!!

Posted by: Jack at October 30, 2007 05:19 PM

Bob I don't get it either, one measley person complains and the whole world has to change???!! Grrrrr It makes my stomach sick from anger.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 30, 2007 11:46 PM

Tom that might be just what he/she is like you said.Like that guy in Calif. complaining all the time about our Pledge.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 30, 2007 11:50 PM

Jack isn't that something too, wow, I am so sick of this stuff happening. It is like staying on one continuous outrage for me.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 30, 2007 11:54 PM

A french blog to support american troops!

Friendly yours!

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Thanks a lot!

Posted by: Nghia NGUYEN at November 5, 2007 07:45 AM