Military Funeral Traditions: Seven Ways to Remember America's Heroes on Veterans’ Day

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Veterans’ Day presents an opportunity to express gratitude for those who have selflessly served in the United States armed forces.

To ensure that the memory of these heroes lives on, it's fitting to learn about the time-honored practices that comprise military funeral traditions.

In this article, we will explore seven captivating ways to honor servicemen and women on Veterans’ Day and throughout the year.

1.     The American Flag Presentation

One of the most poignant moments of any military funeral is the folding and presentation of the flag. After being carefully creased to form a precise triangle, the American flag is solemnly presented to the deceased veteran's family. This act symbolizes the nation's appreciation for their service and sacrifices. It serves as a tangible reminder of the veteran's contributions to our nation.

2.     Playing of Taps

The hauntingly beautiful tune of Taps is a hallmark of military funerals. This bugle call, played by a skilled bugler or on recorded media, evokes a deep sense of reverence and finality. Its mournful melody pays tribute to the departed, reminding us of the sacrifices they made for our freedom.

3.     The Three-Volley Salute

The three-volley salute, also known as the ‘21-gun salute,’ is a moving gesture performed by a military honor guard. Although it traditionally involves firing blanks, it symbolizes a salute to the fallen hero. Each volley represents a distinct facet of military service: duty, honor, and country. This powerful tradition showcases the commitment of our armed forces to the values and principles for which they fought.

4.     Military Attire

The presence of uniformed servicemembers at a military funeral is a demonstration of solidarity and respect. These men and women, dressed in crisp uniforms, stand alongside the bereaved as a tribute to the veteran’s dedication to our nation and as a reminder that they will not be forgotten.

5.     Military Music

In addition to Taps, many families of service personnel incorporate other forms of military music into the funeral or memorial service. The armed forces have a rich musical history so there are many fitting options to choose from. Songs like "Amazing Grace" or other traditional military tunes can add a unique and heartfelt touch to the funeral.

6.     Final Committal

The final committal, often at a national cemetery or a place of significance to the departed, is the closing act of a military funeral. As the casket is lowered into the ground or the ashes are interred, there is a period of quiet reflection and reverence. This is when family and friends say their final goodbyes and the fallen hero is laid to rest with full military honors.

7.     The Missing Man Table

Military families often set up a ‘Missing Man’ table at the repast or visitation. This table is laden with symbols and items that represent the servicemember who has passed on and honors their sacrifices. It includes a single chair, a white tablecloth, a red rose, and other significant memorabilia, to create a poignant reminder of those who never returned home. If your loved one passed on some time ago, you might consider setting up a missing man place at your dining table in honor of your beloved veteran.

On Veterans’ Day, it is particularly important to recognize the rituals that pay tribute to our military heroes. These military funeral traditions remind us of the gratitude we owe to those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation and preserving our freedoms.

If you need additional ideas for honoring a veteran who has passed on, please contact our compassionate staff. We are here to ensure that your loved one has the special send-off they so richly deserve. 

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African-American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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