The Declaration of Independence, signed 243 years ago, declares: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Many celebrated the Fourth of July this month with parades, picnics, watching fireworks and displaying our flag in various ways.

We celebrated freedom.

In June, we watched as more than 100 D-Day survivors journeyed to France on the 75th anniversary of the largest amphibious invasion in U.S. history.

These surviving men said the real heroes were the young soldiers, ages 18 to 22 in 1944, who gave their lives for freedom. One said he hoped they taught in history books about the sacrifices these soldiers made so young people would understand why they enjoy today's freedoms.

Displaying our country's flag is one way to honor those who have served our country, either in the military or in civilian services such as police or fire departments.

During a flag ceremony, as veterans fold the banner, another veteran reads the meaning of why we fold it 13 times. There are several theories about its origin and several versions.

Lori Watson, owner of the Flag Lady's Flag Store in Clintonville, said the shop offers a copy of the following with each flag sale:

* The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

* The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

* The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

* The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.

* The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for 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 for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

* The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

* 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.

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

* The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for defense of our country since they were first born.

* The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in the Hebrews' eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

* The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians' eyes, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

* The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust."

* After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the armed forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

Enough said.

Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by Day column for ThisWeek Community News. Contact her at