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Military Honors

The Meaning Behind Military Honors

Throughout our nation’s history, military burial honors have developed and changed. The following honors are the most frequently observed during contemporary veteran interment and memorial services.

Rifle Volley

Every member of the honor guard fires three volleys. This custom has ancient roots, originating from times when combatants would temporarily halt fighting to retrieve fallen soldiers. Following this, three volleys were fired, symbolizing that the fallen had been tended to by their own forces, and the conflict could resume.

Taps

Taps, originally a military bugle call signaling lights out and the end of the day, evolved from an earlier version. It was adapted during the Civil War to honor fallen soldiers.

Folding of the Flag

Folding the flag with precise, swift movements into the recognizable triangle after removing it from the deceased's casket pays homage to General George Washington and his men, who wore tricorner hats at our country's inception. The 13 folds hold symbolic meanings.

Spent Shell Casings

These represent the three rifle volleys fired. Many believe the three shell casings represent the phrase “duty, honor, country.” Casings are often given to the family as a memento.

Presenting the Flag

Once the flag is folded, a member of the Honor Guard team will present it to the family. Kneeling before the next of kin, the Guard member positions the long edge of the flag toward the family and says, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

Tolling of the Honor Bell

Veterans' artifacts were incorporated into the molten bronze during the casting of the Honor Bell, making them an essential component of this instrument. These artifacts symbolize veterans from the past, present, and future. The bell is rung seven times, with seven-second intervals between each ring. These seven tolls, along with the seven stars on the bell, represent the entirety of a veteran's life journey from birth to death.

Flag Line

A flag line is a display of respect and appreciation for the veteran's service. It also serves to protect the deceased's family and friends from any potential disruptions by protestors or others.