The Graveside Sequence For Funeral Directors Part 1

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This is a Full Honors Funeral with all elements present. A Standard Honor Funeral would encompass the pallbearers also firing the Three-Volley Salute as the firing party.

Military and first responder funerals are about the deceased, but for the family. With that being, the family needs to be able to see every element of the honor guard.

Funeral Setup

In the image above, we see where to station each element of a full honors funeral. Notice that there are clear lines of sight for colors, bugler, and firing party. The ability of the family to see each element is paramount and funeral directors, this is part of your job. Am I dictating to funeral directors? No, I am explaining what is supposed to happen. Many do not have a complete understanding of a military/first responder funeral sequence, speaking of sequences, here is a standard military funeral sequence.

  1. The honor guard arrives one hour before the ceremony and makes a couple of dry runs in their travel uniform.
  2. Fifteen to 20 minutes before the funeral, the team changes into their ceremonial uniform and forms up each element, pall bearers should face the grave.
  3. When the family arrives in the cemetery, the team should “tighten up”.
  4. At 100 yards out, team leadership calls everyone to attention.
  5. At 50 yards out, key members render a hand salute.
  6. The hearse, say “coach” in front of the family, pulls up with the casket (6-sided coffins are not really used much anymore in the USA). Salutes are dropped.
  7. The family and guests exit their vehicles and gather around the coach. The funeral director signals the commander of the team to begin.
  8. The pallbearers remove the casket and transport the casket to the grave all elements render a salute.
  9. The pallbearers place the casket on the mockup and all elements drop their salutes.
  10. The pallbearers bring the flag to “tabletop” and wait to begin military honors.

The funeral can go one of two ways, depending on what the family wants:

  1. Religious service first. A chaplain says a few words and the funeral director says, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise (prepare) for the rendering of (military) honors”. Then military honors, all elements depart.
  2. (Military) honors first. The firing party fires the Three-Volley Salute, the bugler sounds Taps, the pallbearers fold and then present the flag to the next of kin. Then the religious service, all elements depart.

See part two for the Modified Honors/Retiree Funeral.

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