Just like many other parts of service to our country, a military funeral is steeped in tradition and symbolism. Whether you’re the parent, spouse or loved one of a fallen military member, it’s good to understand the various symbols and what they mean as these thoughts may help you feel the full power of their sacrifice during difficult days and weeks ahead.
According to a patriotic tradition that was started during the Naploeonic wars, anytime a fallen soldier is being transferred to the place of interment, the casket should be covered by the American flag–always with the field of blue over the left shoulder of the deceased.
Full military funeral honors, such as those awarded to Presidents or heads of state, require a horse-drawn caisson to transport the body. In the case of Army or Marine Corps soldiers of a high rank, a riderless horse is led as part of the procession–signaling that the fallen will never ride again.
The single, solitary bugle call is the final farewell to a fallen soldier, signifying “Lights out”. Originally used during the Civil War, Taps continues to be the traditional way to honor the lost during a military funeral.
Duty, Honor and Country
If you have ever attended a military funeral, you’re likely familiar the presentation of a folded flag to the family. However, did you know that the flag also contains three bullets that signify Duty, Honor and Country? The history behind this custom is simple–two warring factions would grant each other a time of grace to clear their wounded and fallen from the battlefield, without hostilities. When the battle was ready to resume, three volleys were fired to indicate a return to the fight. There is some debate with experts on military tradition whether the shell casings should be slipped into the flag or presented separately.
If you have questions about military funerals or how to honor a fallen soldier, our friendly and knowledgeable team members can help find you answers. At Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, we also offer a wide range of personal services to meet your needs and those of your loved ones.