Special funeral services are held for people who died in line of duty.
Learning about the Military’s Practices
Military funeral services are given to marines, soldiers, pilots, and sailors who died in battle, as well as to veterans who served the country. The family is informed of the death by a service member or military chaplain with a rank equal to or higher than that of the deceased. A dignified transfer is given to the deceased regardless of his/her rank.
The remains are transferred by a military cargo plane to the base and upon arrival, it is greeted with dignity before it is transferred to the mortuary affairs operations center where the body will be prepared and dressed in full uniform for the burial. All personal belongings of the deceased will be sorted and given to the family members, including the things carried at the time of death.
During the funeral, two honor guards will be present and most of the ceremonial aspects are done at the grave site. On the day of the burial, the casket with a flag draped on it is carried to the national cemetery by a caisson drawn by a horse. The casket will then be carried to the grave site by a six-man honor guard team.
The funeral service is read by a pastor or by the chaplain. Afterwards, the American flag will be lifted and held above the casket, and three shots will be fired by the seven-person firing party. Taps will be played by the bugler while the honor guards ceremonially fold the flag of the United States of America. The folded flag will be presented to the family by the highest-ranking official, complete with a brief salute and a statement of gratitude.
What about those in law enforcement?
Law enforcement funeral services are unique in their own way. Each department and precinct has their own special traditions as well.
The family is informed in person by either the senior chaplain, department/precinct chief, or the department representative. Once the family is informed, the flags at the precinct or department are half-staffed, and the badges are shrouded horizontally with a black cloth or tape.
During the funeral, casket watchers stay on guard until the burial. Every 30 minutes, a team of two guards will take turn in standing and facing each other at the head and foot of the casket. Honor guards consisting of pallbearers, color guards, and casket watchers are the ones going to help in planning and coordinating the funeral services.
On the day of the burial, the honor guards will escort the family to meet the casket at the staging area. The honor guards will carry the casket and the presentation of colors will be done by the color guards. The chief will start the ceremony with an invocation followed by a prayer, opening remarks, and special remarks (this can be from the mayor, friends of the deceased, family representatives, federal or state officials, or local officials).
The eulogy might be given by the family or the chief followed by presentations and closing prayers or remarks. A three-volley salute or a 21 bells ceremony will be performed, depending on the family’s request. Music will be played on bagpipes and a final radio call will be done, followed by the retirement of colors. The pallbearers will now remove the casket for burial.
Even though the military and law enforcement funeral services are done as a tradition, the family’s decisions are still more important. They are the ones who will decide if they want a full military or a line of duty death funeral.