There is a deep sense of tradition, discipline, and symbolism in military services. And it's no surprise that the same suit follows in a military funeral as well.
Unlike a regular funeral, a military funeral is distinct and is given burial rite by a country's military for a soldier, marine, or airman who died in a battle. In addition, the military funeral is also given to a veteran, head of state, or prominent figures in the military.
In military funeral honors, there are various features attached to it. Some of the features include guards of honor, a coffin draping by the flag, and volley shots as a sign of salute. This article will discuss different aspects of military funeral honors and traditions. So, let's delve into the article to know more about it.
Understanding the aspect of military funeral traditions and customs
The military funeral follows a systematic process that shares a long history. And in a military funeral program, you'll see different events that are very significant.
When you attend military funeral honors, various events follow in an organized manner. It would be best for some of the critical events to know better.
Military Funeral Honors detail
The military funeral honor is for the military member that passed away while active on duty or in Selected Reserve (SR). It is performed either in a private cemetery or in the military. In addition, the funeral service is carried out by the concerned branch of the fallen member. Regular military funeral honors detail features:
- Pallbearers to carry the casket
- Riflemen for the gun salute
- A bugler to play bugle
- The burial flag folding and presentation ceremony
Also, an additional funeral honorary may be presented to the deceased if they are war prisoners or killed in action. In addition, if veterans have also fulfilled these, they will also get military funeral honors. Moreover, veterans get cost-free military funeral honors and free memorial items.
Initially, gun salutes were followed by the naval, where they fired cannons without any harm till ammunition was empty. But it has turned into a 21-gun salute in due course of time. The gun salute is done to honor the President, prominent figures, and former President. Interestingly, the number of gun salutes also decreases according to the rank of military personnel. For instance, a four-star army general gets a 17-gun salute.
In military funerals, three-seven riflemen perform three rifle volleys. They're the ones to fire thrice as a mark of salute to the fallen member. Also, the three fired bullets are placed in the folded. After it's placed, the flag is given to the next kin.
Taps is a piece of sad music played by a bugler to honor the fallen member. It's an old practice that has been carried on for decades. Taps are played live or through a good-quality stereo in military funeral services. It's a traditional melody in military funerals to honor the fallen member and the veterans.
The draping flag over the casket is crucial in a military funeral. The tradition started during the Napoleonic Wars in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and they used the flags to cover the dead soldiers who died on the battlefield. It has a long historical lineage, and today most of the country follows this process of draping the flag over the casket.
After the funeral service, the honor guard removes the flag from the coffin and folds it carefully. Each fold represents a specific thing, and eventually, only the stars are shown on the top of the coffin. After careful folding, the flag is presented to the next kin. It's an expression of gratitude shown to the deceased's family for the sacrifices made by them.
What to expect in a military funeral program?
Any funeral is a sad event, and if you attend a military funeral service, you'll likely see a series of organized events. Military funeral honors the fallen members as a sign of respect and gratitude. It honors military personnel who have died while on active service and honors veterans who are discharged honorably.
Here are the events that are likely followed in a military funeral service:
- The first event that you'll come across is the sounding of taps, and it's played by a live bugler or through a stereo.
- The next step is gun salute, where the riflemen fire three volleys to honor the fallen member.
- It is followed by folding the burial flag and presenting it to the deceased's parents, spouse or children as a sign of gratitude.
Does a President get military funeral honors?
The President of the United States is eligible for military funeral honors, and it follows military tradition and a gun salute. Furthermore, the 21-gun salute is meant for the President and other prominent figures.
A 21-gun salute is fired during the burial, and the firing starts at noon at all the military bases. In addition, the former President or commanders of the army orders to fire the gun every half hour at the sound of a trumpet call and end it accordingly.
How should one behave at the military funeral honors program?
Military funerals are a formal event that follows hundreds of years of traditions. It is also crucial to understand certain military funeral etiquettes to show proper respect. There is no harm in learning new things. Instead, this will help you avoid disrespecting the members unknowingly. And if you're in military service, it's crucial to know basic military funeral etiquette.
If you're attending a military funeral, you should wear an appropriate outfit. For instance, if you're not in an army or part of the military services, you can wear formal western wear. For men, it will mainly involve ties, suits, and shirts. And for women, a formal dress or a suit will suffice.
But if you're an army or part of the military, you should wear the assigned formal uniform. You should wear subtle outfits to respect the deceased family members if you're a civilian.
In addition, if you're an army personnel or a former, you need to salute in a military funeral. If you don't salute, it might show as a sign of disrespect or might break protocol.
Army personnel is required to salute in a military funeral:
- When hearse passes in front of you
- During the gun salute
- Whenever the pallbearers move the coffin
- When the casket or urn is lowered to the ground
If you're a civilian, then you don't have to salute. But if you're wearing a hat, it would be best to remove it as a sign of respect. You can place the hat over your heart. And if you aren't wearing any headgear, then you can put your right hand over your heart.
Different types of caskets
If you're looking for an affordable casket, you can opt for a wooden casket. It's one of the cheapest coffins among the different types of caskets. In addition, there is also variation among different types of wood. You will notice that most wood caskets aren't 100% wood, and it has some add-ons and variations. When it comes to the wood casket, it gives a more traditional and classic look.
Furthermore, a wooden casket comes in two types: softwood and hardwood. Hardwood casket is made from broadleaf trees, including cherry, oak, mahogany, and walnut. Softwood casket is made from conifer trees that are soft and flexible. The trees include spruce, pine, and fir. You should also note the difference in appearance between these two types of coffins. Therefore, it would be better to explore before you choose one.
Many caskets are made of metal. Metal casket comes in varied colors and features. One of the main aspects of a metal casket is its durable factor. Unlike other coffins, it is known for its well-built construction. In addition, you can also personalize the casket.
Note that when you buy a metal casket, you also get the option to choose with a seal or a gasket. If budget is not an issue for you, then you can opt metal casket. Also, it's durable and comes with multiple features.
An oversized casket is larger than the regular one, giving extra space for a larger person. Most of the adult fits in a standard casket, but there are times where a large space coffin is required for some people. For instance, if a person is extra tall, an oversized coffin is needed to fit the person securely.
Likewise, an oversized casket is necessary to fit a person comfortably if overweight. You'll find oversized caskets in varied styles and features. In addition, you don't have to worry as they are easily accessible in the market. With the awareness of inclusiveness, there is also varied specification in different types of caskets.
Blog Author: Tim