“To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion.”
Those are the words of Rabbi Yitzhak Miller discussing a ban by the National Cemetery Administration of the words spoken during the Flag Folding ceremony at funerals in National Cemeteries. The volunteer honor guards have recited what each of the thirteen folds of the flag represents as they fold the flag that draped the coffin for the last time. But the NCA says they are not permitted to do so any longer. Because, apparently, one person lodged a complaint.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Flag-folding recitations by Memorial Honor Detail volunteers are now banned at the nation’s 125 veterans graveyards because of a complaint about the ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery.
During thousands of military burials, the volunteers have folded the American flag 13 times and recited the significance of every fold to survivors.
The first fold represents life, the second a belief in eternal life, and so on.
The complaint revolved around the narration in the 11th fold, which celebrates Jewish war veterans and “glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
The National Cemetery Administration then decided to ban the entire recital at all national cemeteries. Details of the complaint weren’t disclosed.
Administration spokesman Mike Nacincik said the new policy outlined in a Sept. 27 memorandum is aimed at creating uniform services throughout the military graveyard system.
He said the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved.
The words can be found here. Veteran's organizations are furious. Many plan on defying the ban outright. I have mentioned before that my family name is highly unusual and that all of us are descended from a single ancestor as a result of a misspelling on an official record. I checked this morning while I was thinking about how to post about this. There are more than 80 people from my family buried in National Cemeteries. There are seven more buried overseas in cemeteries administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
My own father is buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.
And I cannot begin to explain how this ban makes me feel. Could it be so hard to simply ask the families if the flag folding words should or should not be recited? Is it so very difficult? If the establishment clause is meant to keep government from imposing one religion, why is imposing a secular religion acceptable?