Military Honors at a Funeral or Memorial Ceremony


The Burial Flag

A funeral director will apply for a burial flag using a veteran’s DD-214 or discharge document. A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran’s military service to our country. 


Honors Ceremony

Upon request, the Department of Defense (DoD) will provide military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s branch of service. These honors differ for each branch of the military and whether the veteran was active duty, retired or within certain ranks. In some cases, there will be a three volley salute. This is often mistaken for a twenty one gun salute, which is reserved for presidents, former presidents or a president-elect in the United States. The three volleys represent a time when in war a battle would cease. The dead and wounded would be carried off the battlefield and cared for, after the all clear, three shots were fired into the air to signal that the battle could resume.


Flag Presentation

The ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag is a moving tribute of lasting importance to the veteran’s family. The flag is placed on a closed casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased or folded appropriately and displayed near a cremation urn. After Taps is played, the flag is carefully folded into a symbolic tri-cornered shape. A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. When folded, no red or white stripe is to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars. It is then presented to the next of kin or an appropriate family member.


The Flag Presentation Protocol is as follows:

Stand facing the flag recipient and hold the folded flag waist high with the straight edge facing the recipient. Effective April 17, 2012, the Department of Defense standardized the flag presentation verbiage for military funeral honors ceremonies. The following verbiage will be used when presenting the American flag during the funeral service:


‘On behalf of the President of the United States, (the United States Army; the United States Marine Corps; the United States Navy; or the United States Air Force), and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.’