Monday, June 22, 2015

California Judge Rules God Can Be Invited To Military Funerals

Honor Guard will invite God to the funeral on request
Times Standard
By Warren Tindall
POSTED: 06/20/15

Should God be invited to a veteran’s funeral? This is a question that is ricocheting around the local veterans’ community. Since the end of World War II, many veterans’ organizations have assumed the duty of providing military honors at veterans’ funerals and memorials. The climax of the ceremony is the ritual folding of the ceremonial flag in 13 folds and the presentation to family of the departed veteran. It has been a tradition to recite a poem written by an Air Corps chaplain during World War II describing each fold of the flag as the flag is folded. Thus, “The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life, the second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life,” etc.

In Riverside National Cemetery, a protest was lodged concerning this practice. The poem was deemed “politically incorrect” because of its reference to God. In response, and apparently in agreement, the Veterans Administration banned the practice at veteran’s funerals. Many veterans throughout the country vehemently objected. Predictably the conservative talk show hosts had a field day. Even some congressmen became involved.

Eventually, the Houston Veterans of Foreign Wars took the question to federal court. The judge noted that the first paragraph of the Military Funeral Honors Law of 2000 begins with two words, “upon request.” According to the law, the judge ruled the requesting families have the option to decide what elements they wish for their veteran’s ceremony. 

Thus the judge declared the “13 folds” poem may be allowed, but only “at the request” of the veteran’s family. Since that time, our Mad River Community Veterans Honor Guard has always given the families a choice. Many families are adamant that it should be included. In all the years since that ruling, only two families have declined.
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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 a peace throughout the world.
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 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 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.
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.
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."

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