November 20, 2017
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Making flags provides jobs for the disabled

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 3, 2017

With October known as National Disability Employment month, nearly 400 flags can be made in one day, folded perfectly, boxed and ready for shipment by the employees of North Bay Industries, many of whom have moderate or severe disabilities and assemble what is known as the burial flag, which are provided at no cost, to drape upon the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served with the United States Armed Forces.

Rohnert Park has facilities in their own back yard that can cut, assemble and sew the burial flag, which honors the memory of a veteran’s military service for their country.

These particular clients are proud that they manufacture the flags, knowing the flags will cover many caskets of those who served with the armed forces.

The American flags being manufactured at NBI must be made of cotton grown, processed and woven in the United States. North Bay Industries is a non-profit organization established in 1968 with a goal to assist adults with disabilities to become more productive, self-reliant members of their communities through participation in NBRS sponsored training, employment and housing program. The clientele has work ethics instilled into the developmentally challenged workers, who are taught to make and assemble the American flags for the Veterans Administration. Each person is trained to do every job and are very proficient in and proud to do each task. While working quietly and quickly as a team, they make sure everything from stripes and hems to affixing grommets are done as neatly as possible.

The Rohnert Park North Bay Industrial facilities make nearly 7,000 flags a year. 

A burial flag that is used to cover a casket or coffin should be placed so the star field is at the head and over the left should. The U. S. flag should never be allowed to touch the ground nor to be lowered into the grave.  

For those national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays. The law will allow the VA to issue one flag for a veteran’s funeral. Should they be lost, destroyed or stolen, the flag cannot be replaced. To receive one of the flags for deceased veterans, a VA form 21-2008 application must be filled out and the flag may be obtained from your local regional VA office or your local post office. When once the DD214 is on file and a family wants an honor guard for their loved one, simply call the funeral home or mortuary and the staff will contact the military and make the arrangements. An honor guard is made up of active duty or reserve personnel from the branch of service the veteran served in.

A respected saying:

Those who would disrespect our flag have never been handed a folded one.

Let us discuss the 13 folds of the flag.

The first fold is a symbol of life.

The second fold is for our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran’s departing rank, who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold stands for our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it’s to Him we turn in times of peace as well as war.

The fifth fold is a tribute to America. In the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is where our heart lies. It’s with our flag that we pledge allegiance to the flag and the republic it stands for.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces. For it is the armed forces that protect our country and flag against enemies, whether they be domestic or foreign.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it is through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for He has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, which some consider the 13th fold; the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”