If you've grown up in a military family, you may have attended several military funerals as a child and young adult. However, if you don't have experience in this area and you're choosing to attend your first military funeral, you should prepare for a funeral experience unlike any other. While there will be elements of the funeral that honor the life of the veteran in a similar way to conventional funerals that you've attended, you can also expect to encounter a number of unique elements that are commonplace at military funerals. Here are three elements that you'll likely see with veterans funeral packages:
Draping Of The Flag
A common element at a funeral honoring a veteran involves members of the armed forces unfolding a flag and draping it over the deceased person's casket. There is a high degree of pomp and circumstance associated with this process. You'll be impressed with the pinpoint precision of the military members as they stand erect and handle the flag in a crisp, parallel manner. You may also find that it's difficult to keep your emotions under control as you witness this special moment. It's also common for the military members to hand a triangularly folded flag to the surviving family members of the deceased veteran.
Another stirring moment that you'll encounter at a funeral for a veteran is the playing of "Taps" on a bugle by a uniformed member of the armed forces. During the playing of this piece, you'll also note that any uniformed military personnel will stand at attention. The person overseeing the military funeral will commonly ask attendees who are physically able to do so to stand at this time. You may wish to place your hand over your heart while "Taps" plays; you'll see lots of people around you standing in this manner.
Although you won't always see gun salutes at all military funerals, this tradition is still prevalent at military funerals that are more formal in nature. For a gun salute, one or more uniformed military members will elevate the barrels of their weapons — commonly, after previously standing at attention with their firearms — and fire a specific number of times. If you aren't accustomed to being around firearms, be prepared for the loud crack of the weapons as they discharge. They are inevitably people at military funerals who jump or flinch at this moment, so try to anticipate the sound and stay calm.