Military funerals are formal events that call for respectful behavior from both the military and civilian attendees. While not significantly different in this regard from traditional civilian funerals, military funerals honor the life of the deceased and their military service.
Because of this, there is proper military funeral etiquette to be followed that otherwise might not be present at a non-service member’s funeral.
Table of Contents
- Military Funeral Etiquette: What to Wear
- Military Funeral Etiquette: When to Salute
- Military Funeral Etiquette: Where to Sit
- Military Funeral Flag Etiquette
- Help with Military Funeral Etiquette
Military Funeral Etiquette: What to Wear
While past funerals you have attended might not call for a specific dress code, military funerals are formal events, and therefore, jeans and sneakers would be frowned upon.
It is proper etiquette for military members to wear their Class-A uniform – also known as their Dress Uniform – so civilian attendees should wear their equivalent, Brown’s Memorial Funeral Home writes.
Civilians are expected to wear formal attire, such as dress pants, shirts, ties, dresses, and skirts. As is common with general funeral etiquette, dark colors should be worn to indicate respect and mourning.
Military Funeral Etiquette: When to Salute
The salute is utilized in the military as a sign of respect, described by Military.com as a privileged gesture among military members. For the military, it is a gesture that recognizes each other’s commitment and sacrifice, not simply a respectful greeting from a service member to their superior.
At a military funeral, you may notice the present military members saluting during certain military funeral honors and other moments throughout the service.
Civilians are encouraged to utilize a different gesture to show their respect during military funeral honors and other moments to maintain proper military funeral etiquette. Brown’s Memorial Funeral Home suggests removing your hat – if applicable – and placing it or your right hand over your heart as a sign of respect.
In addition to military funeral honors, Brown’s Memorial Funeral Home writes that it is proper etiquette for military members to stand and salute – unless serving as a pallbearer – as the hearse carrying the deceased passes, when the casket is moved, and when it is lowered into the ground.
The 193rd Special Operations Wing notes that retired service members and service members not in uniform should still salute when appropriate as well.
Military Funeral Etiquette: Where to Sit
There is not always enough room in the cemetery to provide enough chairs for all attendees, so seating at military funerals is not standard.
Regardless of whether the service is standing room only, ample seating or a single row of chairs, the front row should always be reserved for the immediate family members of the deceased, Social Mettle writes.
It is not only a sign of respect to the surviving family to reserve the front row for them, but it also allows them to participate in the service during funeral honors without having to reach over other attendees or awkwardly walk through a crowd.
The standing attendees should not sit unless stipulated otherwise by the religious figure running the ceremony. That being said, if the immediate family members are the only ones provided with seating, standing attendees should remain standing.
Military Funeral Flag Etiquette
Proper flag etiquette is very important to the military, and funerary flags are no exception. At a military funeral, an American flag nearly twice the size of a household flag will be draped over the casket with the blue field and stars laid at the top, US Urns Online writes.
It’s proper military funeral flag etiquette that the flag never touches the ground and is to be folded into a triangle by military members. It is then handed to the closest surviving family member, such as a spouse, parent, or child.
Help with Military Funeral Etiquette
Titan Casket is here to help guide you through this challenging period as you plan your Veteran’s funeral. We are happy to speak with you about the casket that best suits your needs, whether you are seeking a special steel casket for your Army Veteran or something else to honor them.
We are your trusted ally in planning the funeral you want at an affordable, fair price. Contact us via our chat window or here on our contact page to get started.