An Opportunity to Honor

As a member of Navy’s Honor Guard, BM2 Jackson has helped lay to rest over 250 veterans and supervised the laying to rest of over 800 veterans. As he spent this week preparing to honor a hero, he took some time to explain his role and the importance of honoring shipmates and that of their families.

This week I will have the opportunity to lay to rest a Pearl Harbor survivor. When I look back on my military career, this will be a moment that I remember because the men and woman that fought in that era ensured not only the future for the United States during WWII, but also for future Americans. I will speak to my sons about this event because they are not only American but also Japanese.

This Friday, a date known to many as “Pearl Harbor Day,” we will honor Mr. Manning, a Pearl Harbor vet. Mr. Manning lived to see one of our greatest adversaries become one of our nation’s greatest allies and we will remember him and his service with honors, customs and traditions that have been a part of Navy culture for centuries.

During his funeral service, the Honor Guard will perform many ceremonies that embody Navy’s core values – Honor, Courage and Commitment, but the best representation of these values is signified in the handling, folding and display of the American flag. A United States flag drapes 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 of lasting import to the veteran’s family.

The flag placement over the closed casket is also symbolic; the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.

After Taps is played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape. On the outside looking in, most people only witness the flag being folded but each fold is different and has a particular meaning.

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States. The flag is finally presented as a keepsake to the next of kin or a family member to remind them how their Sailor’s service  preserved for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

It is for this reason we honor our fallen. To ensure final honors are given to our comrades in arm a carried out with dignity.