The death of a loved one is a difficult time, but one that is made easier with shared grieving. When your friend or family member is an active service member who dies in the line of duty, the period of bereavement is unexpected. If you are unfamiliar with the components of a military funeral, expect to see the following standard traditions at the funeral home and grave site, performed with honor and dignity.
Most of the ceremony that is associated with military funerals is seen during the graveside service. In some instances, an honor guard participates in the funeral and is present at the funeral home. The rank and status of the service member, who might be active duty or retired, does not affect the funeral’s schedule or standards.
Military funerals at national cemeteries include a basic, set list of elements that might already be familiar to you from news programs. First, the casket will arrive either by hearse or on a horse-drawn wagon and will be draped in a flag. It is then carried to the grave site by a guard comprised of six people. The pastor or chaplain presiding at the ceremony then reads a committal service. The American flag is lifted and held over the casket by the six pallbearers from the honor guard. Next, three volleys are fired by a seven-person squad, followed by a bugler playing “Taps.” As part of the ceremony, the honor guard folds the American flag with patience and solemnity. At this point, it is an option to pick up a spent shell from the volleys and place it into the memorial flag, once it’s folded. The ceremony concludes with the presentation of the folded flag, by the highest ranking officer, to the family. The officer makes a short statement expressing gratitude and presents a salute.
If the thought of visiting a funeral home to pay your last respects to a loved one is too much to bear, know that you can find grief support near Oakland. Call us at Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, at (510) 654-0123, to speak with someone who understands your needs for compassion and caring at this difficult time.