You might be attending a military funeral at a funeral home in Boones Mill, VA. If you have never been to the funeral of a military member, you may not know what to expect. Military funerals have a very specific protocol. All that you will see has great symbolism and meaning to honor the veteran who has died.
Military funerals have a very somber tone and are marked by many ceremonial rituals that are designed to honor the military member who has died. You may not be aware, but military funerals can be held for the following:
- American presidents
- Military members who die while serving the country (active duty and reserves)
- Military members who served at least on enlistment term and received an honorable discharge
- Military veterans who served on active duty or in the reserves and received an honorable discharge
There are three different types of military honors that can be conferred on a deceased military veteran. These are often based on the veteran’s military rank and status in the military.
- Standard honor military funeral
- Full honor military funeral
- Armed forces military funeral
There are many elements that you can expect to see when you go to a military funeral to pay your respects to a military veteran.
One element is an honor guard. A minimum of two military members will be in the honor guard, but usually there are six military members, who serve as pallbearers for the deceased military veteran’s casket. The casket will be draped with an American flag.
With full military honors, the casket will be transported by a horse-drawn funeral carriage. All military members (active or veterans) will salute when the casket is transferred from the funeral carriage into the hearse and when the hearse drives by them.
Another element of a military funeral is the rifle salute. Three volleys of shots will be fired by the honor guard. This element symbolizes the time when battles and wars end with ceasefires. As the rifle salute is being done, all active and veteran military members will salute.
“Taps” is a military song that is played at the end of each day (usually 5 pm) on every military installation. “Taps” will also be played by a lone bugler at a military funeral to honor the spirit of the deceased military member. Military members will usually also salute when “Taps” is being played.
Another element of military funerals is the flag folding ceremony. This is done when the casket is at the grave site. The honor guard will remove the flag from the deceased military member’s casket and precisely fold it. Every fold means something very special. Once the flag is folded, it will be presented to one of the deceased’s family members.
Once the graveside service has been done, the casket will be lowered into the grave. While family members may not stay to see this because it can be very emotional to watch, military active duty members and veterans will often stay to watch. They will salute the deceased military member one more time as the casket is lowered.
Paying respects to a military member is something that is done to honor their service to the United States. Whether you are serving or have served in the military or not, you will be deeply moved by every element of a military funeral.