Skip to comments.Flag-folding recitation banned at veterans cemeteries nationwide
Posted on 10/25/2007 6:57:48 AM PDT by Watershed
Through thousands of military burials, Memorial Honor Detail volunteers at Riverside National Cemetery have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors of those being laid to rest.
The first fold, a narrator tells relatives, represents life, the second a belief in eternal life.
The 11th fold celebrates Jewish war veterans and "glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."
A single complaint lodged against the words for the 11th fold recently prompted the National Cemetery Administration to ban the entire recital at all 125 national cemeteries.
A spokesman in Washington said the complaint originated from someone who witnessed the ceremony at Riverside National but would provide no other details and declined to release the directive banning the flag-folding recital, saying it was "an internal working document not meant for public distribution."
Veterans are furious. Story continues below Joe Vargo / The Press-Enterprise The recitation of the 13 folds of the U.S. flag can no longer be made at national cemeteries. Veterans and honor detail volunteers, such as Bobby Castillo, 85, left, and Rees Lloyd, 59, are furious.
"That the actions of one disgruntled, whining, narcissistic and intolerant individual is preventing veterans from getting the honors they deserve is truly an outrage," said Rees Lloyd, 59, a Vietnam-era veteran and Memorial Honor Detail volunteer. "This is another attempt by secularist fanatics to cleanse any reference to God."
World War II Navy sailor Bobby Castillo, 85, another member of Memorial Honor Detail 12, called the federal decision "a slap in the face to every veteran."
"When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Castillo, who was wounded in 1944 as he supported the Allied landings in France. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."
The pair, part of a team that has performed military honors at more than 1,400 services, said they were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks when workers in a staff car came up to them and stopped them.
Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict, even if it means being kicked out of cemeteries.
"This is nuts," Waters, a Korean War veteran, said in a telephone interview from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."
Mike Nacincik, the spokesman for the National Cemetery Administration, said the new policy, which was outlined in a Sept. 27 memo, is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system.
He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government approved. After the complaint made its way through government channels, Steve Muro, director of field operations, wrote the new policy.
Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity.
"We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."
As for comments that the edict is an attack on religious beliefs, Nacincik said, "People are going to have their own views on that."
He said the flag-folding narrative can be read but only if families make arrangements on their own and do not use cemetery workers, which include volunteers. The U.S. government owns Riverside National, the most active national cemetery in the country with more than 8,000 burials of veterans and immediate family members each year.
A Jewish Perspective
Rabbi Yitzhak Miller, of Riverside's Temple Beth El, said he understands the government's decision to ban the recitation but believes it is a quick solution to a complex issue.
"It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."
Miller said the 11th fold, and the 12th fold, which refers to the Christian Trinity -- "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost -- amounts to an endorsement of Judaism and Christianity. He said he would like to see a reference to "God as we understand God" mentioned in the ritual but without endorsing any specific tradition.
"To acknowledge those two without acknowledging others denigrates the patriotic men and women of other faiths who serve our country," he said.
Lloyd and Castillo said they always speak to families before providing military honors to their loved ones. Honors include a rifle salute, the playing of taps and the folding of the flag. Some families don't want any honors; others decline specific parts of the ceremony. Those wishes are paramount and are always respected.
Lloyd said the 16 members of the Memorial Honor Detail he serves on have distributed hundreds of copies of the script they recite while folding the flag. They've received dozens of letters thanking them, and several mention in particular the flag-folding recitation. But now presenting families that memento isn't allowed under the directive.
Lloyd, a member of the state American Legion, said he knows Riverside National Cemetery workers are just obeying orders. The real battle is with Washington.
"We're going to fight this tooth and nail, hammer and boot," he said
you can bet your bottom dollar the a$$hole that bitched was not a member of the immediate family....i have to make sure this is done at my funeral, over a PA system, just to piss off anyone who might be offended...my final gesture to the libs...
Major BS. You don’t punish the 99.9% because of one person. This has to stop.
The Tyranny of the Minority is causing this country to go down a PC drain.
God bless them in this fight against the enemy within, and may all God fearing, patriotic Americans, join the fight.
If my friend can have “Jedi” as his religion on his dog tags, why shouldn’t people get to have this service at their funerals if it’s their choice?
Not that there is a lot of difference IMHO. Neither one worships God.
From someone who witnessed the ceremony?...........A Code Pinko or a Westphall Baptist?...........
Link to the 13-fold recital
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
We all know how the first part is interpted but what about the second part???
Why would we expect anything different from the government after nearly 6+ years of Bush kowtowing to Mohammedanism every chance he gets? Freepers can complain about radic-libs all they want. This stuff comes right from the Oval Office.
By either an athiest or a Muslim. One complaint SHOULD NOT dictate public policy!
"A spokesman in Washington said the complaint originated from someone who witnessed the ceremony at Riverside National but would provide no other details and declined to release the directive banning the flag-folding recital, saying it was 'an internal working document not meant for public distribution.' "
Uh uh. We want to SEE that document. They're HIDING something.
The ultimate sacrifice of a soldier for his country deserves the highest honor and humility by us all. That it is not enough to compensate for what that individual has done for God and country.
If I said what I really wanted about this travesty, I'd be banned.
I don’t understand where they think they can dictate this.
The members of most honor details are volunteers. They are performing honors for the service member being laid to rest, not for the cemetary, not for the members branch of service. They perform honors for their brother or sister in arms.
Where does the cemetary organization get off thinking they can prohibit the exercise of free speech in this way.
I have never known an honor guard that recited this ceremony without the expressed blessing or request of the next of kin.
This is appalling. It’s such a beautiful ceremony, too.
I hope the Legion goes ahead and there’s a test case, because I honestly don’t see how it can be banned. One of the problems now is that people simply fold when some nutball (athiest or Muslim) complains about our practices, where instead we should be aggressive in defending them.
We’ll just have to make sure that the Patriot Guard Riders distribute a copy at each...and...every...service where we honor our fallen heroes!
Star...do your thing!
AMEN! Ethics follows the principal of the greatest good for the greatest number, not pandering to the sole disgruntled party.
What a crock!
Mitchell Paige (MOH - Guadalcanal) is buried there; he’s turning over in his grave.
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