Visiting Clergy Guide

Military Funeral Honors — Burial


General Information

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) provides military funeral honors for eligible service members. Military funeral honors may include the following elements:

  • A casket team (body bearers/pallbearers)

  • A firing party

  • A bugler

  • Folding of and presentation of the U.S. flag 

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 will allow you time to meet with the family and with the ANC Cemetery Representative. The Cemetery Representative can give you additional information upon your arrival.

To the Gravesite

  • Look for the Cemetery Representative, who can help you regarding protocol. Another helpful person is the OIC (officer in charge). Follow the OIC's lead in saluting (military) or placing your right hand over your heart.

  • The casket team will remove the casket from the hearse, or the urn from the Cemetery Representative's car, and prepare to march to the gravesite. The OIC can tell you the grave location and the route that the casket team will use. Salute (civilians: right hand over heart) when the OIC salutes — in general, whenever the flag is moving and you are standing still.

  • Casket burials: Be prepared to drop your salute and lead the procession after the casket team makes a five-step formal turn with the casket.

  • Urn burials: Begin to drop your salute and lead the procession after the casket team has retrieved the remains, when you hear the command "Ready — Step."

  • Lead the processional to the gravesite.

At the Gravesite

  • Stand near the small green metal marker, allowing enough room for the casket team and the OIC to move past you. Salute (military) or place your right hand over your heart (civilian) after you stop and face the remains. Turn to continue facing the remains (drop the salute when moving) if it is appropriate to do so. Drop the salute along with the OIC.

  • The casket team will position the remains over the grave and unfold the flag, holding it taut over the remains. The OIC will inspect, then take one step back. This is your cue to begin your religious service at the grave.

  • Please conduct your graveside service according to your religious tradition. Also, please be mindful of time; ANC has an average of 23 funeral services per day. Graveside services should 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 service, the military will render honors. Chaplains will position themselves two paces behind the OIC to receive the flag, in order to present it to the primary next of kin (PNOK). Civilian leaders will stand to the side. Follow the OIC's lead in saluting (civilians: right hand over heart).

  • Military funeral honors will consist of three rifle volleys by seven riflemen, Taps by a military bugler and the formal folding of the flag.

  • Presentation of the flag: The OIC, or a designated military representative, will turn and present the folded flag to to the PNOK (normally seated on the left front seat). When presenting the flag, the OIC will state: "On behalf of the president of the United States, the United States Army 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, the OIC will salute the flag and move to the side. 

  • An Arlington Lady or service branch representative will offer condolences. You are welcome to do the same after the Arlington Lady or service branch representative.

  • The Cemetery Representative will announce that services have concluded, and invite guests to return to their cars.

  • If there is a curbside salute, follow the OIC's lead in standing by the curb and saluting (civilians: right hand over heart).