Each funeral service is unique to those experiencing the loss of a loved one and also serves as a special tribute to the deceased. Military funerals have elements not found in civilian funerals which allow those in attendance to recognize the veteran’s service and patriotism. One symbolic practice at the funeral of a veteran is the flag folding ceremony. The giving of the flag is a special element of the funeral service which honors the service of the deceased and their family.
What is Said When the Flag is Presented
Every branch of the military makes a unique set of remarks during the presentation of the American flag to the family.
U.S. Air Force
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of (Service Member’s rank and name).”
“This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”
U.S. Coast Guard
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and the Coast Guard.”
U.S. Marine Corps
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and Corps.”
“On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.”
Some families may also want to add “God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.” This will depend on the belief system of the family.
Proper Treatment of the Presented Flag
The flag used in a military funeral should never be flown again. The American flag should stay in the tri-fold shape and be placed in a display case. The display case will ensure that flag will remain in good condition.
Other protocol for a military funeral includes the playing of “Taps” and a seven man firing squad. No matter which elements are used, they are all honorable manners to recognize the deceased’s service. If you wish to honor your deceased veteran with a military funeral, contact your funeral home director and inform them that the deceased has earned military honors. They will be able to make the appropriate contacts and ensure that the service is properly performed.
Taps photograph from Virginia Guard Public Affairs on Flickr.