Military Funeral Customs At Arlington National Cemetery

Veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery are afforded military honors at the request of the family.

The most common military honors service, standard military honors, is available to any enlisted service member or officer.  The standard honors consist of a six-man body bearer detail, a firing party to fire a three rifle volley (often confused as a 21-gun salute), and a bugler to play taps, as well as a chaplain.  The body bearers will carry the flag draped casket to the grave and hold the flag over the casket while the chaplain speaks.  Following the committal service the firing party is called to attention and fires a three rifle volley.  The a bugler plays taps, and the body bearers fold the flag which is then presented to the next of kin.

Arlington is the only cemetery in the world that offers on a regular basis a “full” military honors funeral, available at the families request to officers and warrant officers.  A full honors service
consists of a procession to the gravesite with a horse drawn caisson, a marching band, a marching escort of troops, and a four man color guard. The chaplain joins the procession as well, in front of the caisson, and behind the escort, band, and color guard.  Once at the gravesite, the service is identical to the standard honors service above, with the exception that the band plays while the casket is taken to the grave and while the flag is being folded, the entire element that makes up the full honors ceremony remains throughout the service.


Click here for information on the Order of Arms for cannon shots at Arlington National Cemetery.


“On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, please accept
this flag as a token of the honorable and faithful service of your loved one.”

Thanks, Keith for the information!

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