The U.S. flag plays an important part on Memorial Day, a day we pause to remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during active military service. Memorial Day is a somber day to remember and honor those we have lost.
In each event, the U.S. flag, which is an important symbol for the U.S., will play a large role. For many, the flag symbolizes respect, honor, and freedom. For others, it represents reflection, courage and sorrow.
Raising and Lowering the Flag on Memorial Day
Traditionally on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States of America is raised briskly to the top of the staff then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position where it remains until noon. At noon, it is then raised to full staff for the remainder of the day.
When the flag is at half-staff, the position is in remembrance of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives for their country.
Raising the flag at noon signifies the nation lives, that the country is resolved not to let their sacrifice be in vain but to rise in their honor and continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.
Flag Folding Ceremony
The daily observance at U.S. Military bases and other government installations is called the Retreat Ceremony, and signals the end of the official duty day and serves as a ceremony for paying respect to the flag. When the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, some say representing the soldiers who served under George Washington, the sailors and marines who served under John Paul Jones, and the many who have followed in their footsteps. It is then kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning, it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol to a new day.
On special days, like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, at military ceremonies and government installations, there is a silent flag-folding ceremony described by the Uniformed Services as a “dramatic and uplifting way to honor the flag.” You may notice Guards make crisp, precise folds a total of 13 times to complete the ceremony.
The VA authorizes volunteer honor guards to read the 13-fold flag recitation such as the one from the American Legion, or any comparable script; Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be read by the volunteer honor guards; and volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.
The next time you see a Flag ceremony honoring someone that has served our country, either in the Armed forces or in our civilian services such as the Police Force or Fire Department, keep in mind all the important and personal reasons behind each and every movement.