Silence befell upon the crowd as the stars and stripes were folded in honor of Cpl. Rhett Butler on Monday, July 20 at Heritage Park in Glen Rose. The only sound was the pitter-pattering of the rain as it fell upon open umbrellas and green grass as the community watched the unveiling of the memorial honoring the young soldier who passed away in Iraq in 2007.
Although I have seen the ceremony many times, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Whether itís a mother who has lost her child to war or a widow who held her husbandís hand when he returned home from war, the folded flag being handed to a family member makes my heart weep.
The bravery and class that soldiers exude during their life, whether long or short, is all wrapped up in this one, final ceremony.
Each fold, there are 13 total, represents the founding principles of the United States and the men and women who continue to fight and give their lives for this cause. The American Legion Web site lists the meaning of each fold.
The first fold is a symbol of life - the life that otherwise would not be here had the first American soldiers chosen not to stand and defend themselves against Britain.
The second fold represents the eternal life - the eternal life that God will provide when this life is over.
The third fold honors and remembers the veteran departing from ranks who served and defended his/her country - the veterans who are still proud to wear the insignia of their former military branch; the veterans who are buried in the National Cemeteries across the country.
The fourth fold represents our weak nature, the times when we turn to God for his guidance - a guiding principle that this country was founded upon.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country - the country that houses the brave and the free.
The six fold represents where our hearts lie - for it is our hearts that we hold and protect while pledging allegiance the flag.
The seventh fold is a tribute to the Armed Forces, the ones who protect our country and flag against all her enemies, whether they lie within or outside of her boundaries - it is the flag that was flown at Ground Zero and carried across foreign lands as soldiers fought for our countries honor.
The eighth fold represents the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that those left may see the light of day, and to honor the mother, whom it flies for on Motherís Day - the one entering the darkness enters not alone, but hand in hand with brothers and sisters, leading each other towards the light.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood - to the women who mothered and nurtured the souls of the greats in the past, present and future.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, who has also given his sons and daughters so they could defend this country.
The eleventh fold, representing the Hebrew citizens, honors the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies their God.
The twelfth fold, representing the Christian citizen, honors an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
After the flag is completely folded, the white stars are the uppermost and represents the nationís motto, ďIn God We Trust.Ē