Military life is steeped in symbolism and tradition, and the honor and respect shown to the deceased at military funerals is certainly no exception. While in many ways a military funeral is very similar to a traditional funeral, there are certain aspects that highlight the dignity and solemnity of the occasion.
While it is traditional for friends and family members of the deceased to carry the casket, in military funerals this can be modified to a full honor guard–a six-man contingent in full dress uniform–that carries the casket to the grave site. This is a compelling sight, and one that will not soon be forgotten by the family and serves as one of the final thanks for the service to their country.
Firing Three Volleys
While this is not always part of the service, in a full military funeral an odd number of service people from 3-7 will fire three volleys into the air. The size of the firing party is determined by the rank of the deceased.
Playing of “Taps”
A lone bugler, standing from 30-50 yards from the grave site, will play “Taps” or in some cases this honor could be an audio recording if a bugler is unavailable. This moving tribute began as a humble bugle call during the Civil War and was originally called ‘Extinguish Lights’. If you want to learn more about the history of “Taps”, read our in-depth article on its origin.
Once the service has been completed, the final step of a military funeral ritual includes the ceremonial flag folding and presentation. Proper folding of the flag is critical as there is meaning behind each step of the fold. Once the folding is completed by the military honor guard, three spent shell casings from the volleys are often placed inside the final fold before it is formally presented to the next of kin.
At Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, we have a great respect for individuals who served our country, and actively look for ways to assure that they receive the full honors for which they are entitled. If you need more information, our funeral directors are well-versed in the various options available for your loved one.