Area veterans say they disagree with a recent federal decision to ban a spoken recital, which incorporates religious themes, from being used at some military funerals during the flag-folding ceremony.
National Cemetery Administration spokesman Mike Nacincik said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government approved.
According to United Press International, the ban followed a complaint over religious content in the words.
The text for both the 11th and 12th folds has religious content:
“The 11th 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 12th 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 Spirit.”
Col. Jim Sanders of Checotah, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, said the recital is a good thing that he used at a recent Boy Scout event.
“The scoutmaster asked me to do a presentation on folding the flag,” he said. “The recital has so many references to God and country that I had a chaplain from the Civil Air Patrol come in.”
In combination with the playing of “Taps” and raising the Stars and Stripes up a flagpole, Sanders said the presentation captured the Scouts’ attention.
“They had been running all around before,” he said. “But, when we started, you could have heard a pin drop. I think pretty much all of them did understand the words.”
Bill Isbell, program assistant at Fort Gibson National Cemetery, said the 13 folds recital has not been used there.
The ban applies to Veterans Administration employees and volunteers at all 125 national cemeteries.
Jim Smith, retired from the U.S. Navy, and a service officer with the American Legion, said families should decide whether the recital is used at their loved one’s funeral.
“It makes the families feel better,” he said. “If the family wants it said, it should be done. If they have a different religion, they can say no. Most of them like it. The government shouldn’t have any problem with it at all.”
This isn’t the first time the 13-folds recital has been removed from use. In early 2006, the U.S. Air Force issued revised honor guard protocol manuals. They included a standardized script based on patriotism and historical fact.
Families, not feds, should decide to include ceremony, veteran says
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