Military Funeral Traditions

This type of funeral is held for a veteran, soldier who died in battle or another prominent military figure by the Department of Defense. Also, usually veterans who were discharged for anything other than dishonorable are eligible for a military funeral. The family has to request a military funeral for a deceased veteran, so it is important for the veteran to make this wish known prior to death.

Who is eligible:

  • Active duty military members (or Selected Reserved)

  • Former U.S. Presidents

  • Former military members who served on active duty and were discharged (for a reason other than dishonorable)

  • Former military members who completed a minimum of one term and departed for other reasons than dishonorable

  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve because of a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty

Detailed look at a military funeral service: (depends on status of deceased)

  • Service performed by a military chaplain.

  • An honor guard may act as pallbearer or as a ceremonial guard

  • Most military funerals have the casket carried by a hearse and draped in an American Flag. Funerals of former presidents and officers of O-6 rank or higher have a horse-drawn carriage carry the casket.

  • Most military services include a 3-volley salute, but a Navy member will have a canon fired at their funeral. A gun salute is given to those who are eligible (i.e. general officers, presidents, other high-ranking officials).

  • “Taps” is played about 30-50 yards from the gravesite on a bugle or trumpet. While the song plays the “Final Salute” is given. Due to the shortage of bugle players in the United States, a pre-recorded version is sometimes played.

  • The flag folding ceremony begins when the flag is folded and presented to the next-of-kin. The member of the military then states: “As a representation of the United States Army, it is my high privilege to present you this flag. Let it be a symbol of the grateful appreciation this nation feels for the distinguished service rendered to our country and our flag by your loved one.” If there is no next-of-kin the flag is given to the friend who has requested the ceremony.

  • A Full-honors Funeral includes an escort platoon and military band.