In preparation for Flag Day, Exchangites hear tradition

Photo by Ricki Barker

Photo by Ricki Barker

ALBANY, Ga. -- While everyone knows the American flag has 13 stripes to stand for the original states, not everyone knows the tradition of folding the flag 13 times.

"There are many traditions for the 13 folds, but we use one that is anonymous and handed down," said Marvin Mixon of Albany American Legion Post 30.

Mixon spoke at the usual Friday Exchange Club of Albany luncheon meeting. The club's community service focuses on child abuse prevention, but it also encourages patriotism within the community.

One of the community functions that Post 30 offers involving the flag is the honorific draping of a flag across a veteran's coffin, the playing of taps by a bugler and an honor guard rifle salute.

When a flag is draped over a coffin, the stars are placed over the left side, over the heart of the deceased.

While two of his fellow American Legion members, Eugene Edmunds and Charles Nicholson, each held two corners of an unfurled flag, Mixon said that people should fly the flag on Flag Day, which is Monday.

"The flag represents the people of the country," Mixon said. "President Harry Truman in August 1949 signed for national Flag Day."

As Mixon related the story of the 13 folds that make up the triangular shape of the flag, Edmunds and Nicholson reverently folded the flag in front of the podium from which Mixon spoke.

They wore their American Legion overseas caps, dark blue blazers, gray slacks and spit-shined shoes as if they were honoring a deceased veteran.

At a veteran's funeral where a rifle salute has been fired, three spent rounds are collected, Mixon said.

The round casings are placed within the folds of the flag that is presented to the next of kin after the ceremony, he added.

"They represent duty, honor and country," Mixon said.

The folds themselves carried a variety of meanings, such as the first fold symbolizing life and the 13th fold symbolizing the nation's motto: "In God We Trust," Mixon said.

"Our club stresses patriotism. I think we should show more respect for the flag," club President-elect Barney Knighton said. "This is the proper way to handle a flag."

Knighton also encouraged people to fly the flag on Flag Day.