Riverdale receives Sept. 11 flag in symbolic ceremony

By Joel Hall


The American flag which flew over the United States Capitol on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will now be in the possession of the City of Riverdale, indefinitely.

Through the work of U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga), the flag was brought from Washington, D.C. to Riverdale.

The Riverdale post of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) presented the flag to Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon in a symbolic, flag-folding ceremony on Monday.

Local war veterans involved in conflicts, ranging from Operation Iraqi Freedom back to World War II, stood in front of City Hall, while the flag was folded 13 times and presented to the mayor. Each symbolic fold was explained to the small audience of veterans and public safety officials who gathered for the ceremony.

Sfc. Ronald Stubbs (ret.), commander of Riverdale VFW Post 3650 and a veteran of the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, said the ceremony was a chance to familiarize citizens with the sacred ritual, which takes place whenever a solider is buried.

"A lot of people think that the 13 folds represent the 13 original colonies," said Stubbs. He went on to explain how each fold has religious and patriotic undertones: The first fold is a symbol of life; the second represents belief in eternal life; the third honors the veteran who gave part of his or her life in service to the country; the fourth represents peoples' weaker nature, and thus a dependency on God; the fifth is a tribute to our country; the sixth is for "where our hearts lie;" the seventh is a tribute to our Armed Forces; the eighth is a tribute to those "who entered into the valley of the shadow of death," and to mothers; the ninth is a tribute to womanhood; the tenth is a tribute to fathers; the eleventh, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represented on the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, glorifying the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the twelfth, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity, glorifying God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

After the last fold, the stars were placed upwards, in recognition of the national motto, "In God we Trust." The folded flag, resembling the appearance of a cocked hat, was then presented to Mayor Wynn-Dixon.

Wynn-Dixon, whose now-deceased brother was a Navy Seal, said it was an honor to receive the flag. "This is sacred," she said. "I had a brother who was draped in the flag ... I never knew what the folds meant. It was very emotional for me."

Scott could not be reached for comment on Monday.