When an active duty service member passes, the military gives special honors for his or her sacrifice. A chaplain and a service member arrive at the family’s home and deliver the news in person. Special escorts, honors and ceremonies follow. But how much do you know about this process? Did you know veterans also receive special honors upon their passing?
At Callaghan Mortuary & Livermore Crematory, we are aware of these traditions and honors. We are also aware of the processes necessary to make sure your family member gets the honors he or she deserves. We also honor the customs of all faiths. So, helping families fit military funeral protocols into a proper funeral service is part of what we do.
When death presents itself to your family, you can have faith in us. Our Livermore mortuary will be there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so reach out for a complimentary consultation. Let us help you plan the funeral your loved one deserves.
What to Expect at Military Funeral Services
U.S. law entitles active duty, honorably discharged or retired service members certain honors when they die. The government has standardized this military funeral etiquette. So, qualified service members can have these honors at their funeral, no matter their rank or when they enlisted.
Military units must provide a uniformed detail of at least two representatives. These service members will perform the two core elements of a military funeral—playing “Taps” and presenting the U.S. Flag to the decedent’s next of kin. The military may sanction further honors based on certain qualifications and the preferences of the fallen service member’s family. The burial location may also influence elements of the ceremony.
National Cemetery Services
Interment of a service member at a national cemetery may include these elements:
- Six-man honor guard to act as pallbearers
- Use of a hearse or a horse-drawn caisson to transport the remains
- Folding of the American flag by the honor guard
- Service performed by a pastor or chaplain
- Firing of three volleys by a seven-person guard
- Performance of “Taps”
- Presentation of the flag to the family by the highest-ranking officer present
Private Burial Services
Many of the same elements conducted at a national cemetery are available for private cemeteries as well. However, these services tend to be less formal. Here are a few of the differences:
- Military honor guard must consist of a minimum of two service members
- Members of the local VA may stand as part of the honor guard
- Representatives of the funeral home may also handle certain military burial customs
Other honors are available upon request and are contingent upon approval. These requests often rely on available resources, personnel and weather conditions. The honor guard will still play “Taps” and the decedent’s family will still receive a folded American flag.
How Will Your Loved One Be Honored?
The military takes its duty to honor fallen brothers and sisters in arms very serious. They transport the remains of active duty service members to Dover Air Force Base. There an honor guard, chaplain and family members accompany the body to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations center. VIPs and journalists may attend based on the family’s wishes.
Once preparations for burial are complete, the body is then transported to its final resting place. The body must travel feet-first, and the military escort must stay with the body until it reaches the location of its final interment. This could be to a national cemetery or to a private funeral home.
Conducting a military funeral involves hundreds of years worth of traditions. Some California funeral homes may not be up to that task, but we are. Callaghan Mortuary & Livermore Crematory has over 113 years of experience serving the needs of grieving families.
We can help guide you through this difficult time. We offer special resources to help families cope with grief. Our team is also here to help guide you through the paperwork you need to ensure your loved one receives the military honors he or she deserves.