Bury Dad with his father's burial flag?

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by gidgetpb, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. gidgetpb

    gidgetpb New Member

    I recently placed my Dad in a long term care facility and just finished emptying his apartment. I discovered a very large 48 star flag folded (not triangular, it is folded in rectangle shape) in a cardboard box in a cedar chest. There is no identifying information with the flag. My sister and I believe it is the burial flag from my Dad's father, who served in WWI and died in 1940 when my Dad was 13 years old and there were only 48 states in the Union.

    Dad recently lost his father's fraternity ring which was the only physical momento of his father that he had. He would have been buried wearing that ring as he never took it off and it was of tremendous sentimental value to him, but now that is not possible.

    Neither my sister or I is interested in keeping/displaying this flag we found. We are thinking of refolding this flag into the proper triangle shape and placing it in the coffin with Dad when he passes, to be interred with him. He will be in an above ground mausoleum crypt. Is there any reason not to do this?
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, GidgetPB !

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !

    I'm sorry for the difficult circumstances that you and your family find yourselves in regarding your Father's condition. I'll do what I can to address your Flag-related concerns.

    First, if your Father's condition allows it, perhaps you can ask him about the Flag's origin and whether or not he would like to have it interred with him. Every Flag has its story and it sure would be nice if your Father could tell you his Flag's story. IF he is unable to respond or he doesn't remember, then the decision to inter the Flag with him will fall back on you and your sister.

    BACKGROUND : "Burial Flags" (Cemetery Flags, Interment Flags, Coffin/Casket Flags, etc.) from that era (1940) were generally made of cotton bunting with sewn Stripes and appliqued (or embroidered) Stars, and were approximately 5x9.5' in size.

    Since your Grandfather (Father's Father) was a veteran of the Great War (World War I) it would be altogether fitting a proper that his casket would have been covered with an American Flag during his burial service. If so, then the Flag would have been folded in the familiar "triangle" shape and presented to his next of kin.

    If your Father is a veteran then he would be eligible for a "Burial Flag" too. I'm not sure of the "details", so I'd recommend checking with the Veterans' Administration to find out.

    IF your Father IS a veteran, and he served before July 4th, 1959, perhaps you could use the 48 Star Flag you already have for HIS "Interment Flag"?

    If the Flag is to be interred with your Father, I'd recommend that it be professionally cleaned and folded properly first. You might want to do that now, before it's needed, because when your Father's time comes you're going to have your hands full dealing with everything else.

    If the Flag is NOT going to be interred with your Father, you could have it cleaned and folded then put into triangular-shaped wooden display case with a brass plate bearing your Grandfather's name and "dates" and your Father's name and "dates". This would be an appropriate "remembrance" artifact for your Family ("Grandpa's Flag").

    If the Flag is NOT going to be interred with your Father and no one in the Family wants it, then you could donate it to a local museum, or a war memorial museum, local veterans group, or maybe sell it. On eBay, Flags of that size and era usually sell for approximately $25-50, depending on condition and "history".

    However it works out, GidgetPB, I wish you, your Father, and your family all the best. My Grandfather served with distinction in World War I and my Father served during World War II and the Korean War and I have nothing to remember them by. So I really hope everything works out for you!

    Thank You for bringing your Flag-related question to our Forums !

    Fair Winds & Following Seas,

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  3. gidgetpb

    gidgetpb New Member

    I got the flag out and inspected it today. It is heavy cotton with sewn stripes and the stars are appliqued on. Along the binding on the edge with the grommets is stamped Valley Forge Flag Co. 5 x 9 1/2'. I have no doubt now that this is Grandpa's burial flag. Grandma must have refolded it to fit in the rectangular box and put it away in her cedar chest, where it's been for the past 69 years. I refolded it properly and now it does not fit in the box. I wrapped it in a plastic bag for the time being until we decide what we will do with it.

    There is some yellowing in some of the white stripes, where it was folded incorrectly and the stripes were exposed to the cardboard of the box, and what seems to be a couple of tiny rust spots from grommets touching white areas. Where can I take this to have it professionally cleaned? Would an ordinary dry cleaner's do it or are there places that specialize in this sort of thing?

    I am visiting Dad this weekend (he lives in another state) and will take the flag with me to spark his memory and find out if he wants it to be used in his funeral and/or interred with him as a memento of his father. He is a vetran of WWII, but is not terribly proud of his service (he served Stateside as an auto mechanic) and I don't think he really wants a full military send off. Would it be inapprpriate to drape the flag over his coffin but not have the full military send off?
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, GidgetPB ! :D

    I've only got a few minutes before I have to leave to go pick up my wife from work. I won't get everything answered right now, but I'll do my best then try back again tomorrow!

    CLEANING your Grandfather's Flag : Almost any reputable dry cleaners worth their salt should be able to do a good job cleaning the Flag. Look for an "established" local company that's been around for quite awhile. I don't mean just the store or the "name". I mean the company's "owners", especially if it's a "family-owned" business. All things considered, they will have cleaned a great many American Flags and will have encountered (and successfully cleaned) the types of conditions your Flag has. I wouldn't be surprised if they do it for FREE, too! :D

    "Properly" Folded Flag : I don't know a whole lot about them, but there are a lot of companies (stores, outlets, etc.) that sell wooden "presentation" (or "display") cases for triangular folded Flags of different sizes. Some are "fancier" than others. I don't even know if you'll "need" one. If one of the family is going to end up with it, then it would probably be a good idea. If your Father is going to have it interred with him, then maybe not. Most of the "presentation" cases I've seen have nice little brass plates attached to them that can be engraved.

    I'm out of time for right now. I'll try to address your Father's Military Service in my next post. I can tell you right now that my opinion is that if he served "Honorably" (Honorable Discharge) he's got absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!

    You might check with the Veterans' Administration to see what the various "protocols" and procedures are for Veteran's funerals. I don't know what they are so I can't advise you on it at this time. I can say that whatever they are, your Father has earned them!

    Talk to you later ! :eek:

    Robin Hickman :D
    Eugene, Oregon, USA

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