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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mention God, Get Dragged from Military Flag Folding Ceremony

By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

Are you kidding me?

From Breitbart: When a veteran started offering traditional remarks at a military flag-folding ceremony, several uniformed airmen assaulted him, dragging him out of the room because his remarks mentioned God. Now First Liberty Institute lawyers representing retired Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez are demanding that the U.S. Air Force apologize and punish those responsible or face a federal civil-rights lawsuit.

Last year at a service for the death of a good friend of mine, the military personnel assigned to the funeral service at the Riverside Memorial Cemetery informed us the words that go along with the folding the flag are no longer provided by personnel because of the mention of God in it.  So, a member of the funeral party read it, instead.

The Flag of the United States of America is folded 13 times to represent the original 13 States.

It is folded and handed to the next of kin at the burial of a veteran.

The first fold of our Flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of
their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in
times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing
with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our
country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our
Republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might
see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and
devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense
of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh 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 twelfth 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.

When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation's motto, "In God
We Trust." 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, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

For countless years, service members have given the “flag-folding speech” at military and civic events, including retirement ceremonies. Traditionally, this speech explains the colors, symbols, and history of the flag.

The flag-folding speech: Our flag is known as the stars and stripes. The union consists of white stars on a blue field, symbolic of a new constellation. Each star represents one individual state and together they stand united indivisible. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776. The one official, red, is symbolic for the blood of those who have given their lives to defend and protect our great nation from all of her enemies, both foreign and domestic. White represents purity, innocence, and hope. Blue is for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. But in our hearts our flag stands for many things, evident in the Declaration of Independence where all men are created equal with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the right of the people to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive. Our flag stands for the Constitution of the United States of America. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech. It provides for security to all of her citizens, it also provides for a fair and swift trial. It abolished slavery and it gives each and every individual of age the right to participate in our voting process—to have a say in his or her’s future. Our flag is a beacon, recognized around the world to represent freedom during times of peace, or during times of war. This is what we live for. This is what we will fight for, and if necessary to touch the head of God in her defense, the charge that we accept as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines is a noble one for there is no heart stronger than that of a volunteer. Let us pray that God will reflect with admiration the willingness of one nation in her attempt to rid the world of tyranny, oppression, and misery. It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America. God Bless our flag. God bless our troops.

As you can see, the speech contains religious references, including, “Let us pray that God will reflect with admiration the willingness of one nation in her attempts to rid the world of tyranny, oppression, and misery. It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America;” and the speech closes with, “God bless our flag. God bless our troops. God bless America.”

In 2005, the Pentagon changed the speech to remove all references to the divine, substituting additional historical facts such as Neil Armstrong’s planting of an American flag on the moon in 1969. But many service members prefer the traditional speech and desire that version given at their own retirement celebrations.

According to a demand letter sent by First Liberty Institute when a squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky, learned that Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez was planning to give the traditional speech mentioning God, he expressed his opposition and allegedly tried to block it. 

When the event went forward as planned, Rodriguez took his position and began his flag-folding speech. Four uniformed airmen surround him, forcibly seize him, and roughly drag him out of the room, as he continued shouting out his speech over the heads of his assailants.

The service members were not military police and had no lawful authority to arrest or detain any person, especially a private citizen like Rodriguez. Air Force personnel then expelled Rodriguez from the base entirely.

Rodriguez then retained First Liberty Institute — the largest law firm in the United States exclusively dedicated to protecting religious liberty — as his legal counsel. First Liberty is representing Rodriguez entirely free of charge.

“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,” Rodriguez says. “To have the Air Force assault me and drag me out of a retirement ceremony simply because my speech included the word ‘God’ is something I never expected from our military.”

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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