Military Funeral Etiquette: Everything You Need to Plan for a Service

Military Funeral Etiquette: Everything You Need to Plan for a Service

You want to give your loved one the honor he/she deserves. Learn everything about military funeral etiquette to put your mind at ease.

If you’ve recently had a loved one pass away while serving, the entire country is indebted to their sacrifice.

While it might be hard to grieve and plan a military funeral, your loved one deserves to be honored properly.

Many people that are tasked with organizing a military funeral will find themselves overwhelmed. They don’t want to do it injustice but have no prior experience with military funeral etiquette.

If you’re not sure where to start, be sure to use this article for reference. See below everything you need to know to plan a service.

Make Venue Arrangements Beforehand

Perhaps this is your first time planning a funeral of any kind. If so, it can be extra intimidating to plan one with military ties to it.

But there’s one secret to planning a funeral and making sure it pays a proper tribute to your deceased love one: finding the right venue. The venue you select can help you plan the service, choose intricate details, pick a vessel, as well as the burial spot.

To have the funeral abide by all military funeral etiquette, you need to choose a trusted memorial park with experience. The more years of service they have, the more military funerals they’ve participated in. 

They can help answer all your questions and help you cross off things like military funeral honors, flag folding, saluting, and so much more.

DD Form 214

To properly honor those that die in the line of duty, their loved ones are required to hand the funeral director a DD Form 214. This will prove that the deceased person actively served in the military.

The DD Form 214 is the same form that’s given to anyone that retires, separates, or is discharged (honorable or dishonorable).

The form holds a bevy of valuable information such as when and where they entered the military, their last rank and assignment, and what they specialized in. It also includes their decorations, and foreign service, and all the services they accumulated.

Be sure to hand this to the director of your loved one’s future funeral home, mortuary or cemetery.

Request Military Funeral Honors

After you choose the venue where your loved one will be buried, you may either choose a funeral director or have one appointed to you by the venue. Either way, be sure to request military funeral honors for the ceremony.

These honors are used to pay tribute to those that served for the United States Military. 

They include having two active members of the armed forces attend the service, at least one of which is from the branch in which the deceased person served. These members will fold the U.S. flag during the ceremony.

The folded American Flag will then be handed off to the deceased person’s loved one and have “taps” played from a trumpet. The military funeral honors bring tremendous pride to the loved ones of those that pass on. 

Choose the Final Resting Place

San Diego is home to many amazing cemetery sites, but you need to find one that invites you in as a family. Somewhere that won’t just treat your loved one with respect during the service, but for many years beyond so that they can rest in peace.

This decision is more extensive than many people imagine. For starters, you have to decide between a public or private burial place. Both have their pros and cons such as cost, location, and exclusivity.

Then you also have to consider where your loved one wanted to be put to rest. Of course, they wanted to be buried in San Diego, but would they want to be buried facing the ocean? Do they want room for their loved ones to one day to be buried as well?

You’ll also have to consider whether your loved one wished to have their remains buried or cremated. The answer will help you decide how and where to commemorate your loved one’s military service and life.

Consider the Head Stone

No matter what method of burial or commemoration that you choose, you’ll have to decide on a headstone (if applicable) or a grave marker. The materials that they’re made of can provide a beautiful representation of their life.

For example, you can choose between granite, marble, and bronze to write their name for all to see. If you’re doing a headstone then you can also choose to include a quote or message.

To some, this might seem to be a minute detail, but it’s important for showing your appreciation and acknowledging the sacrifice that they made. Whether or not they gave their life for this country… they were willing to, and that’s bravery to celebrate!

Communicate Proper Military Etiquette With Those Attending

Odds are that some (if not most) of the people you’re inviting to the funeral have never taken part in a military funeral before.

Therefore, it’s important that you communicate proper military funeral etiquette to them beforehand. Tell them whether or not you’d like them to salute, what they should wear, whether or not to bring their children, etc.

Those attending will respect your wishes. Let them know of any rules that the funeral home has as well to avoid complications.

Consider Military Funeral Etiquette as You Plan

You aren’t in this alone. The cemetery site you choose will help you integrate proper military funeral etiquette into your plans.

Be sure to read this article on finding the right cemetery site in San Diego for your loved ones.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we’ll be happy to assist you further!