funeral homes in Silver Spring, MD

What to Expect at a Military Funeral Service

When exploring funeral homes in Silver Spring, MD, many families are often uncertain about what to expect at a military funeral service. These services are solemn, dignified ceremonies that honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Understanding the elements of a military funeral can help families prepare and ensure their loved one’s service is conducted with the utmost respect and tradition.

The Importance of Military Funeral Honors

Military funeral honors are a way to show the nation’s gratitude to those who have defended it. Authorized by the Department of Defense, these honors are available to eligible veterans and can be requested by their family members. The core elements of the military funeral honors include the folding and presentation of the United States flag, a ceremonial bugle playing Taps, and a rifle volley, depending on the resources available and the service member’s rank and service history.

Planning a Military Funeral Service

Planning a military funeral involves several key steps, starting with determining eligibility. Most veterans who have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable are eligible for military funeral honors. Families should provide the necessary documentation, such as the DD Form 214, to the funeral director or the local Veterans Affairs office. Once eligibility is confirmed, the family can coordinate with the funeral home and the military unit responsible for providing the honors.

The Funeral Ceremony

The military funeral ceremony typically includes several poignant traditions that reflect the discipline and honor of military service. The ceremony often begins with a procession, followed by a service that may include religious readings, eulogies, and musical selections.

1. Flag Presentation and Taps

One of the most recognized elements of a military funeral is the folding of the American flag. A team of service members meticulously folds the flag into a symbolic tri-cornered shape and presents it to the next of kin. This is usually accompanied by the playing of Taps, a haunting bugle call that has been a part of military funerals since the Civil War. Taps is played to signal the end of a service member’s duty and is a final farewell.

2. Rifle Volley

Another traditional component is the rifle volley. A group of service members fires three rifle volleys into the air. This act is a historical military custom and a mark of respect. It is important to note that the rifle volley is different from a 21-gun salute, which is reserved for heads of state, including the President and other dignitaries.

3. Eulogy and Religious Services

The service often includes a eulogy delivered by a family member, close friend, or military representative. This speech honors the deceased, highlighting their service, character, and contributions. Many military funerals also incorporate religious elements, such as prayers or scripture readings, depending on the family’s faith and wishes.

Additional Elements

Depending on the service member’s branch of service and rank, additional honors and elements might be included. For example, the presence of a military band or the inclusion of specific branch-related traditions can be arranged. The funeral home and military liaison can assist in coordinating these details to ensure the ceremony is comprehensive and fitting.

After the Ceremony

funeral homes in Silver Spring MDFollowing the ceremony, the military often provides support to the family, including grief counseling and assistance with benefits. This support can be invaluable as families navigate the emotional and logistical challenges of losing a loved one. Understanding the benefits available and how to access them can provide some relief during this difficult time.


For families seeking funeral homes in Silver Spring, MD, understanding the components and traditions of a military funeral service can help plan a respectful and honorable farewell for their loved one. Military funerals are rich in tradition and provide a meaningful way to recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of veterans. If you need assistance planning a military funeral or any other funeral service, Snowden Funeral Home is available to help guide you through the process with compassion and expertise. Contact us today to learn more about our services.