Military Funeral Etiquette

Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery by Mark Alves
Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery by Mark Alves

Living down the street from Arlington Cemetery, I’m seen the expansion of the hallowed grounds for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of my annual commemoration of Veterans Day, I’ve updated my Veterans Day Prayers list.  It includes a Miss Manners column on Military funeral etiquette for grieving family members, which I’ll highlight here.

Military Funeral Etiquette For Grieving Family Members

  • Do not need to stand to receive the flag from a service member
  • Do not need to return a salute (if a civilian)
  • Should not misinterpret silent reverence by a service member in attendance as rudeness
  • Are not obligated to verbally express thanks to service members in attendance

Source: Miss Manners column, 11/10/2010

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2 thoughts on “Military Funeral Etiquette

  1. In church does a member of a veterans organization in civilian clothes the American Legion, wear his American Legion cap indoors during the church service and in a funeral home? Does he also wear his medals on his left chest while celebrating the occasion?
    thanking you in advance for your attention and prompt reply…
    Booker T. Brooks, Survivor
    Battle of Britain, WW II

    • Thank you, sir, for taking the time to comment, and for your service.

      Regarding your questions about wearing medals on the left chest in civilian clothes, the answer is Yes according to these reputable sites. This is encouraged by the Veterans Pride program of the VA. For example, see:
      http://www.amervets.com/mypride/
      http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=2042

      Regarding the wearing of the Legion cap inside during worship, the answer is No based on this information from a Legion website.
      http://emblem.legion.org/uniform_caps/cap_etiquette.asp

      “A[n American Legion] member is considered to be in uniform if wearing an official Legion uniform cap…The cap should be worn in a place of worship only by the Guard of Honor, Color Guard, and Commander of same while in marching order or standing guard. When returned to and seated in pews, the cap should be removed…Legion members not in formation will uncover upon entering the place of worship and remain uncovered during the entire service and will recover after leaving the place of worship.

      When at a funeral, the cap should be held over the heart as one approaches the casket and is not at any time worn in a place of worship (except by the Guard of Honor, Color Guard, or Commander of same while in marching order or standing guard.)”

      I hope this information is helpful to you.

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