A letter to the American public: The importance of a folded flag

To the family of a fallen law enforcement officer, it represents the death of someone they love


Reprinted with permission from the Cape Coral Police Department blog

By Master Sergeant Patrick O'Grady

What is the importance of a folded flag?

To the families who have received a folded flag, we mourn with you and honor your sacrifice. (Photo/Getty Images)
To the families who have received a folded flag, we mourn with you and honor your sacrifice. (Photo/Getty Images)

Most people who see a picture of a folded flag think nothing of it, but to the family of a fallen law enforcement officer, a folded flag represents the death of someone they love.

The flag is usually draped over the coffin their loved one is in. The flag is taken off the coffin and folded perfectly by an honor guard team or members of the fallen officer’s agency. The flag is then given to the highest-ranking person in the agency.

Law enforcement funeral traditions will be conducted to honor the fallen officer. A bagpiper will play Amazing Grace. There will be a twenty-one gun salute. Seven members of an Honor Guard will each fire their rifle three times. A trumpet player will play Taps.

The highest-ranking member of the fallen law enforcement officer’s agency will present the flag to the family and try to find the words to help the family in the grieving process.

The folded flag will be held tightly and holds thousands of tears shed during the funeral. The folded flag represents one of the last moments a family has with their loved one before they are laid to rest. Long after the ceremony has ended, the folded flag will hold a place of honor in the house of the surviving members.

The folded flag is a stark reminder of how dangerous it is to be a law enforcement officer. No law enforcement family wants to receive a folded flag.

To the families who have received a folded flag, we mourn with you and honor your sacrifice.

NEXT: All dressed up with only a painful place to go


About the author

Master Sergeant Patrick O'Grady is the public affairs officer for the Cape Coral Police Department in Cape Coral, Florida.

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