Upon the request of survivors, Memorial Honor Guard details fold the American flag 13 times at military funerals, explaining as they go the significance of each fold. The folds once represented the original 13 colonies, but veterans groups developed secondary meanings.
The first represents life, the second eternal life, the third departed veterans, and so on. The National Cemetery Administration pulled the ceremony when it got a complaint about the 11th fold, said to represent the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in the Hebrews' eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The National Cemetery Administration pulled the ceremony when it got a complaint about the 11th fold, said to represent the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in the Hebrews' eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Chico veteran John Schultz said the 11th fold is meant to honor Jewish veterans of war, whom he mentions when he performs the flag folding ceremony several times a year at churches and service clubs.
Schultz and other area veterans are perhaps best known for demonstrating the tradition at Chico's annual 9/11 tribute. "I don't know exactly what's behind this, but I'm going to find out," Schultz said.
National cemetery officials released no details about the complaint that led to the ban.
Schultz has been performing the ceremony for years, usually as the "caller" who explains the folds, and said nothing will make him stop. He said the reference to Judaism never bothered him, adding that he was honored to fight beside several Jewish soldiers in World War II. Schultz was upset when he learned about the ban Friday, pacing the floor for several minutes, according to his wife.
"Every time we turn around, something else is going down," Schultz said. "Next they'll be asking us to take all the crosses and flags out of the cemeteries, too."
Schultz promised to alert veterans groups, and said they wouldn't take the affront casually. "I think some of the will come unglued," he said. He believes Elks Lodge members, about 1,000 strong in the north state, will be especially upset over the decision. "We're going to give them hell," Schultz vowed.
A call from the Enterprise-Record to the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in New York, seeking comment on the ban, was not immediately returned.