Sea Services Funeral Services: Military Funeral Honors Columbarium Inurnments

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 for columbarium internments begin at the columbarium. Plan on arriving at the administration center 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).

At the Columbarium

  • Look for the Cemetery Representative, who can help you regarding protocol. Another helpful person is the Officer in Charge (OIC). At the columbarium, stand by the (OIC) at the curb. When he presents arms, salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) when he does and drop the salute along with the OIC. When the ceremony begins, follow the OIC's lead regarding the salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) See diagram and the Symbol Chart for more information.
  • The casket team will remove the urn from the car and prepare to march to the courtyard, where military honors will be rendered. This may be in a central courtyard, with a short walk, or it may be in a small temporary courtyard right next to the road, on the side of the columbarium. The Cemetery Representative can tell you the route that the casket team will use to carry the urn to the courtyard site.
  • Start to drop your salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) 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 courtyard site, saluting (Civilian dress: hand over heart) after you stop and face the remains. Turn to continue facing the remains if appropriate to do so. Drop the salute (Civilian dress: hand over heart) after the command from the OIC.

Columbarium: the Courtyard

  • Stand to the side, allowing enough room for the casket team and OIC to move past you. You should stand so that you will be near the OIC when they come into position to place the urn on its stand. (Center courtyard only: The casket team will normally enter the courtyard from the right side. They will then go behind the green chairs and place the urn on the stand.)
  • The pallbearers will position the remains on the stand and unfold the flag, holding it taut over the remains. This is your cue to begin the religious services at the courtyard.
  • Please conduct your courtside services according to your religious tradition. We request that these services be kept under ten minutes in length, due to an average of 23 funerals each day.
  • The OIC and the casket team will look for you to step back to indicate that you are finished.
  • Following your courtside services, military honors will be rendered. Chaplains will position next to the OIC to receive the flag to present 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 casket team will receive the folded flag, who will march to the Chaplain's 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 bearer will turn and present you the folded flag. Salute the bearer with the flag and take the flag with your left hand on top and your right hand on the bottom, and stand while the bearer salutes the flag. When the bearer drops his salute, wait until the bearers are dismissed and then 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.
  • Civilian leaders: The OIC or a designated military person will present the flag.

Columbarium: the Niche

  • The Cemetery Representative will invite the family to follow you and the Cemetery Representative to the niche for inurnment. The Cemetery Representative will show you where the niche is as you walk.
  • When all have arrived at the niche, the Cemetery Representative will invite a family member to place the remains in the niche.
  • At this point, the Cemetery Representative will look to you to for the committal service or its equivalent. Please do this short service according to the dictates of your faith. At the end of this service, you are welcome to offer condolences to the family.
  • The Cemetery Representative will announce that services have ended, and invite people to go to their cars.