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Flag Folding Ceremony

 
Naval military funerals are based on a few simple customs and traditions.  Such funerals are open recognition of the Nation's debt for the services and sacrifices of its men and women.

The ceremonial customs comprising the elements of a naval funeral are rooted in ancient naval usage.  The flag that covers the casket today symbolizes the service of the deceased in the armed forces.  The Nation regards the burying of its military dead as a solemn and sacred obligation.  The three volleys that are fired, according to ancient belief, were to scare away evil spirits.  Taps is played over the grave to mark the beginning of the last, long sleep, and to express hope and confidence in an ultimate reveille to come.
 

Flag folding at the funeral of Admiral James Stockdale held at the Naval Academy.
 
Local customs may vary from the pattern of the full military burial service at Arlington National Cemetery.  However, the presentation of the national ensign to the next of kin is a standard.

The flag is presented as a keepsake to the next of kin or a family member.  The presentation serves to remind them of their veteran's service and is a symbol of appreciation from a grateful nation for the deceased's service.
 
The flag is folded in military funerals by the casket bearer detail immediately after "Taps" is sounded by the bugler. 

The folded flag is presented to the next of kin in a graceful measured cadence.

Facing the flag recipient, the presenter stands and holds the folded flag waist-high with the straight edge facing the recipient.  Kneeling on one knee in front of the flag recipient, the flag is solemnly presented.

The wording of the presentation is determined by the veteran's branch of service:

Army:
On behalf of the President of the United States and the people of a grateful nation, may I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service your loved one rendered this nation.

Marine Corps:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and Corps.

Navy:
On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to this Country and a grateful Navy
.
Air Force:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of [Service member's rank and name]. (NOTE: If the next of kin has expressed a religious preference or belief, add: "God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.")

Coast Guard:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and the Coast Guard.
 
References:
Naval Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery (NAVPERS 15956A). Bureau of Naval Personnel, nd
Navy Military Funerals (NAVPERS 15555C). Washington DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1993