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6 Makings of a Military Funeral Service

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Every year on the Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of America’s independence. With that comes a host of activities, including community parades followed by cookouts with family members and friends.

While we look forward to these fun events, it’s important to remember the reason for such celebrations. July Fourth is a time to celebrate our nation’s freedoms, and for many military members and their families, it’s a reminder of why they are serving or have served.

We have proudly assisted families of veterans for more than 100 years, and have seen the level of responsibility it takes to ensure a memorial of the highest caliber. For more information on the makings of a military funeral service, including special honors, continue reading below.

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1. Rifle Volley

Military honors are determined by the branch of service based on the rank of the veteran. With the proper documentation, a funeral home can help your family arrange for specific military honors, including a rifle volley.

If requested by the family, members of the honor guard may sound off three volleys of shots in honor of the deceased veteran. When finished, they’ll fold the shell casings into a flag for the family. 

Historically, the volleys would signify a temporary pause in battle for service members to clear the grounds of deceased soldiers. Once cleared, they’d fire three volleys to signify the continuation of battle.

2. Honor Guard 

The selected funeral home may also help you arrange for an honor guard. An honor guard consists of at least two members of the U.S. Armed Forces, one of which is a representative from the deceased veteran’s service branch.

The uniformed group will parade and/or present the necessary flags during the funeral ceremony.

3. Taps 

If an official bugler is available, the funeral home will arrange for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to play Taps.

Taps is a traditional bugle call sounded at military funerals. During the playing of Taps, the honor guard presents a final salute to the deceased veteran. If no bugler is available, a recording may be played. Read the full story and origins of Taps, here.

4. Flag Folding

The ceremonial folding and presenting of the flag is a moving tribute of lasting importance, as it honors the memory of a veteran’s service to our country.

During the funeral, the flag is positioned at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. Once Taps is played, the flag is then carefully folded into a triangle, representative of the three-cornered hats worn by colonial soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times to represent the 13 original colonies with no stripes visible, leaving only the stars.

It’s then presented as a keepsake to the next of kin.

5. Pallbearers

If available, family members can request that members of the honor guard function as pallbearers to carry the casket.

6. Presidential Memorial Certificate

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper signed by the current president to honor the military service of a veteran or reservist.

The following must be true to receive a PMC:

  • The veteran or reservist is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
  • The person requesting a certificate is the next of kin, family member or close friend of the veteran or reservist.

If families would like to request more than one PMC, they can apply for more copies using VA Form 40-0247. To speed up the process, submit copies of the veteran’s military discharge documents and death certificate.

Such honors consist of traditions intended to express deep gratitude for those who have served our nation.

>>>Related Resource: Click here to see a comprehensive list of VA burial benefits and memorial items. Or, click here to see a list of national cemeteries in Ohio.

Let us Help You Honor a Fallen Hero

We believe the men and women who answered our nation’s call are deserving of special attention and consideration. For more information on our services, contact Busch or download our guide on comprehensive tribute options to plan a funeral for a veteran.


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