Military Funeral Etiquette

Military funeral planning is very traditional and elegant as well as reverent for families and attendees. Military funerals are a formal affair, so the family and friends require certain rules of etiquette for their loved ones funeral. If attending and you are a military personnel of any branch, you are expected to behave as you are in the military and should wear your dress uniform. You should also salute when it is appropriate to do so unless you are a pallbearer. Times to salute are when the hearse passes your path, when the casket is being moved from one place to another, during the gun salute as well as while Taps is played and when the casket is lowered into the ground. If in civilian attire, you should take your hat off and place it over the heart instead of saluting. If you are not wearing a hat, use your right hand over your heart and stay standing for the whole service, except when the clergy is reading over the committal service.

For family and friends, appropriate attire would include respectful clothing and does not include shorts or jeans, tee shirts of any kind or athletic clothing. Comfortable dress shoes should be worn because the military service can take longer than the average funeral service. The next of kin sits in the front of the funeral home, as this person will be given the American flag as part of the end of the service. Anyone attending should follow the chaplain or Honor Guards lead. Children or toddlers should not be at a graveside military funeral, as it is hard for them to stay seated and quiet for long periods of time. Things like the gun salute can scare them and cause problems as well. Older children that are old enough to understand a funeral can attend, and should be made aware of the actions required of them. Anyone who brings a small child to a military funeral should be ready to leave if the child becomes loud or disruptive, simply to be respectful.

After the funeral there should be times made for you to visit with the family, and sending a sympathy card or a condolence letter will be greatly appreciated.