The Meaning Behind Each Fold of the Flag

Folded Flag

On this day that we celebrate the symbol of our nation I would like to share the flag folding program that explains the reason for each fold. I always knew that a flag should be folded into a triangular shape with the stars on the outside, but never realized how significant it is. No matter what your beliefs are about the state of our country the flag is meant to be a symbol of unity. Take the time today to enjoy the freedoms we have and respect The United States Flag.

We fold from the stripes toward the stars, for whereas the stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, they are now embodied in the fifty sovereign states represented by the stars.

FIRST FOLD – A symbol of life

SECOND FOLD – A symbol of our belief in the eternal life

THIRD FOLD – Made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

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.

FIFTH FOLD – 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 she is still our country, right or wrong.”

SIXTH FOLD – Stands 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.

SEVENTH FOLD – A tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all the enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

EIGHTH FOLD – A tribute to the one who entered into 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.

NINTH FOLD – A tribute to womanhood it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the characters of the men and women who have made the country great have been molded.

TENTH FOLD – A tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

ELEVENTH FOLD – In the eyes of Hebrew citizens, 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.

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 the Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our National motto, “In God We Trust.”

Homeowner Association Debacle

Only in the backyard!
Only allowed in the backyard!

My husband and I are in the beginning process of living a more self-sufficient lifestyle since his retirement from the military, but since we live in a “Deed Restricted” development we are limited in the things we can. Due to living with the constant watchful eye of a Homeowners Association (HOA) I have been wondering about the development of Homeowner Associations and why have we allowed ourselves to be governed while trying to own a home. I understand the need for a management company if your home is in a gated community that provides security and outdoor maintenance. I have a hard time understanding why Homeowner Associations have become such an accepted normal in our society. In many of these communities you pay a fee to have the corner of a roadway looking nice, or the area around a community mailbox clean, but this also comes with the constant watchful eye of a management company dictating that you keep your yards weed free, or the paint on your home done, or even ensure that your driveway has no blemishes.

I attempted to do some research about where these communities that are a part of our normal life came about and discovered that the first planned community was in New York and was constructed by William Levitt. It seems he was creating a community in which military veterans could purchase a low cost home with a few restrictions, like no hanging a laundry line in your front yard. I had a hard time finding any other history related to Homeowners Associations. The only thing that I could determine is builders decided to create communities for people that had similar beliefs. Unfortunately this idea has blown up into something that has many people frustrated, but also feeling that they don’t have many options for purchasing a home unless they are willing to accept the restrictions of an HOA.

Many of the reasons that I became interested in our desire to have an HOA is because now that I would like to be more self-sufficient I can’t and I find that a bizarre choice in Americas living style. We have spent years fighting for our freedoms but yet we are willing to live in a house that we are purchasing but have an outside source dictate how our yard looks, what we can plant and encouraging the use of chemicals to maintain a pristine appearance that is unrealistic in the daily flow of life. I recently read an article in Green Living, Go Native by Adam Stone in which he reported “Last year, Texas passed a law that prevents homeowner associations from prohibiting the use of native grasses or Xeriscapes in landscaping.” I find it absolutely appalling that we have to pass a law to regulate a natural ecofriendly landscape. Seriously people isn’t the health of our planet more important than your yard looking better than the neighbors. How amazing would it be if we utilized our HOA living to create an environment of growing different vegetables to share a meal with our neighbors? Community living is suppose to create a sense of community and neighborly living, instead we have a fear of doing something wrong and offending the HOA gods. When it comes to a single family home I think HOA’s are a bad idea.

Are drugs to blame for mass tragedies?

In light of the most recent tragedy in Santa Barbara there is an article that has seen an increase in circulation titled, Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Shares 1 Thing in Common.. . In reading through the version that I clicked on the article list tragedies starting with the two perpetrators of the tragedy at Columbine High School and that they were both prescribed a psychotropic drug. It goes on to list other tragedies and the common thread of psychotropic drugs. I have not taken the time to research each perpetrator nor do I plan on doing so, what I do know is that if you read the side effects of any of the medications prescribed for ADD, ADHD or depression, aggressive behavior or suicidal tendencies are listed

One thing that I have experienced and think is unfortunate is the desire for our young to fit into an educational and behavioral box. All children are not built the same, not everyone can sit for 8 hours and soak in everything that a teacher is required to teach. While I won’t delve into the challenges that our education system has I do want to speak of my experience of the school pressuring me to put my son on a psychotropic drug because they felt he was ADD. When he was in second grade his teacher was concerned that my son was not keeping up with the rest of his class and felt that medication could help him focus. I took him to his pediatrician at the time to find out about how they diagnosed ADD and was shocked when he handed me two questionnaires, one for me to fill out and one to have his teacher fill out. When we returned to the doctor to have him explain the evaluation he said based on the responses he could call in a prescription right away. Really, you mean based on how we answered 30 questions each you are going to put my son on medication that could change him for the rest of his life, needless to say we never returned to that doctor again! Instead of turning to drugs I began to monitor our diet and tried to eat as much natural unprocessed food as we could. To help my son get caught up in school I also invested in one on one tutoring. Although it wasn’t an easy process these two changes made a major difference and by the next school year my son was caught up to his classmates. As he got older monitoring his diet got more challenging and he continued to have “behavioral” issues in school, but when he was eating healthy his issues weren’t as pronounced. I accept that there are times when medication is needed, but I also think it has become an easy solution to a complex problem. I truly believe we are so busy with external impressions that we have become blind to the things we can do to change our own life and those close to us.

There really is no way to make sense of any tragedy whether it is a mass shooting, a suicide or one individual killing another there is still loss of a life. Each of us deserves to live a long life of pursuing our own happiness. As parents make sure you are fully educated on all medical decisions. Most importantly, take time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the world around us and enjoy each other. Show compassion and empathy to a stranger every day and maybe we won’t hear of so many angry incidents happening in our world.

Celebrating in April

Seeing beauty in every moment.
Seeing beauty in every moment.

Look for the good in every person and every situation. You’ll almost always find it.
Brian Tracy

The week of April 15-20 seems to be a time that has attracted evil for over 100 years. For me these five days have always been a time of celebration, because they include my father’s birthday, my aunt’s birthday as well as my parent’s anniversary. Over the last 22 years though, Americans have come to dread this week due to many national tragedies. As this week came and went we saw many news stories remembering the bombing during the Boston marathon last year, Dateline also did a special about the Columbine shooting 15 years ago. The special had a positive message about overcoming that I would encourage you to watch. These are only two of the several tragic events that have occurred within this 5 day time span.

As I sat back and reflected on this time period and my reasons for celebration and the countries desire for healing I keep wondering how can we combine these two and make changes? I am blessed that I have a family that has a strong bond although geographically we are not close. We have love and support that transcends distance. I live my life with a positive outlook and try to reflect that to all of my friends and family, but our nation seems to be in distress that continues to grow. It is heartwarming to see the bond that the survivors of these various tragedies have, but this bond is not crossing over to the nation as a whole.

My desire is to see more stories of people coming together to support one another. Utilizing the common courtesies that seem to be old fashioned like holding a door, or even simply smiling and saying hello. One of my favorite stories is Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The message of doing something kind for someone and wanting nothing in return except to have someone pay that kindness forward to someone else is my mantra. Although it is not a common practice I offer everyone I see a smile for the day. I hope that you can smile too.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Frederick Keonig

Patriotism and the United States Flag

United States FlagIt seems that in this age of constantly trying to be politically correct we have lost some of our core values as a country. We are a country that was created on freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly as stated in the first Amendment. The United States Flag is a representation of our nation and these freedoms. After the attack on our country on September 11, 2001 there was a resurgence of people displaying the flag to show their love of our country and patriotism. Unfortunately since then the flag has also been utilized inappropriately as a political statement.

Recently a friend of mine had an experience while waiting in line at a drive thru restaurant where she saw a United States flag sticker that was upside down. She got the driver’s attention and questioned him about this, the person’s response was “Yep, I’m anti Obama,” her response was “Oh, I’m so confused. I didn’t know disliking our president meant being anti- American.” To which the driver responded with an inappropriate gesture. Two days before I heard about her experience I was attending a flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion where we were respectfully going through the process of burning flags that were no longer in condition to be flown (per U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1 (k) of the US Flag code). During this ceremony a person rode by on a motorcycle and stated “Oh, it’s just a flag burning.”

Flag retirement
Proper disposal of a flag no longer fit to be flown

These two experiences had me thinking a lot about the flag and the representation that it is of our nation. Growing up, I remember learning that you never burn a flag in protest, that a flag should never touch the ground, and that you should stand and show respect during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, but beyond that I didn’t know a lot of the rules regarding the American Flag. I decided it is time to know more about this symbol that so quickly and easily establishes that I am proud to be a United States citizen.

The American flag has been an ever changing representation of our growing nation. It represents a nation of independence, individual liberty and popular sovereignty. Our flag is unique because it doesn’t represent a family or royal house. The flag is a representation of all approximately 300 million citizens of the United States. Congress originally decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, the 13 original colonies/states. As our nation began to grow this decree changed to restrict the number of stripes to 13 representing the original states, but a star would be added for each succeeding state. The last star was added in 1959 after Hawaii was admitted as a state by President Eisenhower.

After reading the flag code my friend had every right to question the person displaying a flag upside down because the first item in the flag code states (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. Based on the person’s response I doubt he was in dire distress. As for the person that rode by our flag retirement ceremony, all I can think is that it was an uninformed statement. I know until recently I had never attended or even knew that the American Legion did ceremonies like this, but now I am honored to have been a part of this ceremony and look forward to attending in the future.

I have enjoyed learning more detailed information about the United States Flag and all that it represents. Please stay tuned for additional information in future posts, I would also like to hear your feelings on this national symbol.