The final salute. A somber yet important occasion. A military funeral is a time for friends and family to come together to pay their respects and honor the veteran in their life—one who has selflessly contributed to our country and is deserving of much gratitude. Military life and the ceremonies that come with it are steeped in tradition and symbolism, with funerals being no different. They ensure that each individual is inextricably connected through the immortality of service to their country.
These customs, mixed with the unique wishes of the veteran and their families, are the foundation of these ceremonies, and can be as modest or as elaborate as they choose. Being a preferred veterans services provider, the people of Miller-Jones have a long history of honoring veterans and their families, and remain committed to providing impeccable service and personal attention to every detail.
Most people are familiar with a few of the traditional military honors that take place at a funeral for a veteran, including the sounding of “Taps,” the presentation of the flag, and the three-gun volley salute, among others. The history and symbolism behind military funerals help us to understand and highlight the amount of respect and love our community has for our fallen soldiers. Although the history of military funeral honors can be traced back over the centuries and from all parts of the world, here is a brief history of a few honors we practice in the United States that Miller-Jones offers as veterans services at each of our locations:
The sounding of “Taps.” Meant to be played by a bugler, Taps originated during the Civil War and was intended to signal to soldiers it was time to go to sleep. Originally titled “Extinguish Lights,” the tune rapidly gained popularity and began to be used at funerals to honor and respect the passing of a soldier. In 2013, Congress designated “Taps” as the nation’s official “Song of Remembrance.” During the tune, members of the military salute until the last note. It is optional for civilians to place their right hand over their heart.
The folding and presentation of the flag. During the playing of “Taps,” the American flag, originally draped over the casket, is folded 13 times into a triangle and presented to the veteran’s family in tribute of patriotic service. Although the origins of the procedure are unknown, each fold represents the principles on which the nation was founded and is also thought to be a nod to the original 13 colonies.
The three-rifle volley. The three-rifle volley consists of no less than three and no more than seven rifles firing three volleys, or bullets (blanks, for safety) in memory of the veteran who has passed. The practice originated in the Roman era, signifying the end of a day of battle, when the field was cleared. Typically, the three cartridges from the rifles are placed into the folded flag prior to presenting it to the next of kin. The cartridges signify duty, honor, and sacrifice.
The funeral caisson. The caisson, originating during WWI, was a two-wheeled, horse-drawn cart or wagon used to transport ammunition during military battles. When necessary, it was also used to transport fallen or wounded soldiers from the battlefield. Today, caissons transport the body of a veteran who has passed to their final place of rest. At Miller-Jones, we offer a unique Jeep caisson for families who wish to include it as a part of their services.
At Miller-Jones, we have a longstanding and deep respect for the men and women who have served, and their families. Military tradition runs deep in our own roots, and we proudly employ veterans and continually support other veterans services in the communities we serve, including Post 53 and Riverside National Cemetery in California, one of the nation’s largest military cemeteries. Every eligible veteran we serve is entitled to be buried at Riverside and receive military funeral honors, if requested. These include a few of the above traditions, as well as two honor guards.
If you or your loved ones have any questions or would like to know more about veterans services, our knowledgeable staff is here for you at our locations in Menifee, Perris, Moreno Valley, Hemet, Murrieta, and San Jacinto. Reach out to us at (951) 658-3161.
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