All veterans and active military members, whether in the reserve or on active duty, are eligible for military funeral honors at their service.

At military funerals, at least two troops, who are called honor guard detail, perform these things for free and with care. They are meant to honor the person who died in service. Veterans who are eligible could ask their funeral director to perform these honors.

Funeral Customs


Funeral honors for a soldier

The person who died as part of the military oversees the military burial rites, which can take place in either a private or military cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery says that often, there is a shooting party, a bugler, a team of people carrying the casket, and the folding and presenting of the burial flag.

If the person who died was a prisoner of war, received the Medal of Honor, or died in battle, they may be given more burial rites.

According to Arlington National Cemetery, veterans who meet these requirements will receive military funeral honors. These include a military band, an escort, and a marching group whose size depends on the rank of the veteran.

No matter what rank the person is, military funeral traditions say that the duties must be done in a certain order, starting with the casket arriving at the grave.

Arlington National Cemetery says that the casket team lowers and ties the burial flag after pulling it tight over the coffin.

After the officer-in-charge and non-commissioned officer-in-charge start the gun volley, Taps is played by those who have just finished the chaplain's service. The leader of the coffin team then tells the family to sit down while they fold and present the flag.

Salute with guns

Military OneSource says that the gun salute started as a military tradition where all of a warship's cannons were fired harmlessly until there was no more ammunition left. This was done to show that the ship was not hostile.

It has been a tradition for a long time to honor current and past Presidents of the United States with the 21-gun salute. The number of guns fired goes down for each rank below the president. For example, 17 guns will be fired to honor army generals with four stars.

The American Legion says that at a military funeral, three to seven riflemen fired three volleys. Usually, three fired bullets are put into a folded flag before it is given to a family member.

Funeral Customs


The Sound of Taps

Military OneSource says that the US Army officially accepted Taps in 1874. In 1891, Taps was first played at funerals. By 2013, it had been officially named the "National Song of Military Remembrance."

Taps are played either live with a special bugle, which is a device that has a recording of Taps on it, or with a high-quality stereo recording.

Putting up and presenting flags

Two military members fold the flag and give it formally after the last notes of Taps are played. Following thirteen folds into a triangle shape, the two service members place the flag over the coffin, making sure that six of the fifty white stars are properly displayed.

Then, a member of the military gives the folded flag to the partner, parent, or child of the person who died. A triangular military funeral flag display is a common way to show the flag after the service.

The flag is carefully folded 13 times into a triangle to honor the lives and efforts of military members who have died. The ceremony itself has lost some of its meaning over time.