October 28, 2007

Flag-Folding for Falun Gong

by PG

Courtesy of the AFA, today's outrage against God and Mom is that the National Cemetery Administration now requires that families who want a Judeo-Christian flag-folding narrative recited at a veteran's burial arrange for it themselves rather than using the employees or volunteers of the federally-owned cemeteries. The 13-fold recital derives from local military traditions but is not in the Army Field Manual, not part of the U.S. Flag Code nor government-approved; it also imprecisely quotes Stephen Decatur's toast as "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong." Nearly half of the recitation has implicit or explicit religious meaning:

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life. ... The fourth fold 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. ... 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 eleventh 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 twelfth 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."
If you're wondering where the outrage against Mom is, it's that the eighth and ninth folds are gone along with the rest:
The eighth fold is 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. 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.
As an afterthought, "The tenth 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."

Some veterans may not believe in the Abrahamic tradition, or in God or an eternal life, and therefore reciting those words over their graves should not be standard practice for a representative of the government. Moreover, the government shouldn't be getting involved in veterans' religious beliefs one way or another. I don't want to pay for paid staff or volunteers from the VA to learn how to represent the beliefs of Muslims, Wiccans, etc. Let the families and others who actually knew the deceased make the appropriate religious observance. The government's role should be of promoting patriotism and respect for military service -- not Judaism, Christianity, deism or a belief in the after-life.

October 28, 2007 08:22 PM | TrackBack

Do you object to the carving of a religious symbol on the government-issued headstone?

Posted by: Tom T. at November 1, 2007 10:42 AM

I don't object as long as the government is willing to carve whatever the deceased would have wanted on the headstone -- i.e., treats all religion and also non-religion equally. The refusal to put a Wiccan symbol on a Wiccan's headstone pissed me off, and it's just an indication of the problem with getting government even that minimally involved in the specifics of someone's religious beliefs.

Personally, if I ran the grave side of Veterans Affairs, I'd just give the family of the deceased a voucher that they could do what they wanted with -- put it toward a headstone, or a cremation and a trip to the nearest river to dump the ashes, or a Viking flaming-boat funeral.

Posted by: PG at November 1, 2007 06:16 PM
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