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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Clarifies Policy on Flag-Folding Recitations

October 30, 2007, 08:00:00 AM

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“13-Fold” Ceremony, Other Scripts Approved

WASHINGTON -- To ensure burial services at the 125 national cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reflect the wishes of veterans and their families, VA officials have clarified the Department’s policy about recitations made while the U.S. flag is folded at the gravesite of a veteran.

“Honoring the burial wishes of veterans is one of the highest commitments for the men and women of VA,” said William F. Tuerk, VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.  “A family may request the recitation of words to accompany the meaningful presentation of the American flag as we honor the dedication and sacrifice of their loved ones.”

Traditional gravesite military funeral honors include the silent folding and presentation of an American flag, a rifle salute, and the playing of “Taps.”

The clarification includes the following:

  • Volunteer honor guards are authorized to read the so-called “13-fold” flag recitation or any comparable script;
  • Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be read by the volunteer honor guards; and 
  • Volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.

Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a national cemetery.  Other burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker. 

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