Sea Services Funeral Services: Military Funeral Honors Burials

General Information:

Military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery may include the following elements:

  • A casket team (body bearers / pallbearers)
  • A firing party
  • A bugler
  • Folding of and Presentation of our National Colors

Specific Information:

Military funeral honors begin at the curb near the burial site. Plan on arriving at the Administration Building at least 30 minutes before the service, which gives you time to meet with the family and with the Cemetery Representative from Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). The Cemetery Representative can give you specific information upon arrival.

To the Grave Site

  • Look for the Cemetery Representative, who can help you regarding protocol. Another helpful person is the OIC or NCOIC (Officer or Non-Commissioned Officer in charge). Salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) when the OIC/NCOIC does, and drop your salute when he does. See diagram and the Symbol Chart for more information.
  • The casket team will remove the casket from the hearse / urn from the representatives car and prepare to march to the grave site. The OIC can tell you where the grave is and the route that the casket team will use to carry the casket / urn to the grave. Salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) when the OIC salutes, generally when the flag is moving and you are standing still.
  • Casket: be prepared to drop your salute and lead the casket after the casket team makes a five step formal turn with the casket. Urn: start to drop your salute and lead the procession, after the casket team has retrieved the remains and are standing with the other casket team, when you hear the command 'ready - step'.
  • Lead the processional to the grave site.

At the Grave Site

  • Stand near the small green metal marker, allowing enough room for the casket team and OIC to move past you. Salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) after you stop and face the remains. Turn to continue facing the remains (drop the salute when moving) if appropriate to do so. Drop the salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) along with the OIC.
  • The casket team will position the remains over the grave and unfold the flag, holding it taut over the remains. This is your cue to begin the religious services at the grave.
  • Please conduct your graveside services according to your religious tradition. Time is our enemy at ANC, with an average of 23 funerals each day. We therefore request that grave side services be kept under ten minutes in length.
  • The OIC and the casket team will look for you to step back to indicate that you are finished.
  • Following your services, the military will render honors. Chaplains will position themselves next to the OIC to receive the flag, in order to present it to the Next of Kin (NOK). Civilian leaders will stand to the side. Follow the OIC's lead in saluting (Civilian dress: hand over heart).
  • Military honors will consist of three rifle volleys by seven riflemen, Taps by a military bugler, and the formal folding of the flag.
  • The Chaplain will receive the folded flag from one of the pallbearers, who will then march off to the front.
  • The presentation of the flag: See diagram for more information.
    • Note: The Coast Guard and the Marine Corps will provide a military representative to present the flag.
    • Chaplains: The OIC will turn and present you the folded flag. Take the flag with your left hand on top and your right hand on the bottom, and stand while the OIC salutes the flag (do not salute yourself at this point). When the OIC drops his salute, go to the NOK (normally seated on the left front seat) and present the flag. When you present the flag, use these or similar words:   'On behalf of the President of the United States, The United States Navy, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.' After presenting the flag, salute the flag and move to the side.
    • PLEASE NOTE: For a General Officer funeral, a special representative will present the flag.
    • Civilian leaders: The OIC or a designated military person will present the flag.
  • The Arlington lady will offer condolences. You are welcome to do the same after she returns to her place.
  • The Cemetery Representative will announce that services have ended, and invite people to go to their cars.
  • If a curbside salute is done, follow the OIC's lead in standing by the curb and saluting (Civilian dress: hand over heart).
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