A different kind of history lesson


When it comes to the American flag, St. Juvin Post 1336 Veterans of Foreign Wars knows the history and they share that knowledge each year with students at Coal City Intermediate School. This year’s presentation was different than in the past as it focused on something that is, “very important to veterans and their families,” Post 1336 commander James Phillips said.


The focus was on the folding of the casket flag, the American flag that is draped across the casket of deceased veterans to honor the memory of their service to the country.  


“The ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag is a moving tribute and of lasting importance to the veteran’s family,” Phillips told the students.


The flag is placed on a closed casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. When the flag is folded it is done in 13 folds to represent  the original 13 colonies. And, there is meaning to each fold the first a symbol of life, the second a belief in eternal life and, third in honor and remembrance of a veteran departing the ranks and the meanings continue until the 13th and final fold reminding citizens of the national motto, “In God We Trust.”


Once folded, the flag’s  shape is emblematic of the tri-cornered hats worn by the patriots of the American Revolution. 


Post members Keith Roseland and Jim Richards showed the students how to properly fold the flag and they called on a few students to assist them. 


The presentation also provided students with an opportunity to ask questions about the flag and military service. Questions ranged from the age of the American flag and various branches of the military to why there needs to be a light shining on the American flag. The answer, provided by Post member Bill Bomba, is that the flag is to always be in the light. 


In addition to taking part in the VFW’s presentation, the fourth and fifth grade students had an opportunity to spend some time viewing the Community Veterans Monument that is located at the northeast corner of the school’s campus. The monument contains the names of military veterans from the community, as well as flags representing each branch of service from the U.S. Army established in 1775 to the newest branch, Space Force, established in 2019. 


As each student departed the November 14 presentation they were presented with an American flag pin and two stars that had been cut from flags presented for disposal. Along with a thank you for the gifts, many of the students departed the presentation thanking the VFW members for their service.