A military funeral is a memorial or burial rite given by a country's military for a soldier, sailor, marine or airman who died in battle, a veteran, or other prominent military figures or heads of state. A military funeral may feature guards of honor, the firing of volley shots as a salute, drumming and other military elements, with a flag draping over the coffin.
Canadian military funerals involve many rituals seen in other parts of the world. The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery use a 25-pounder gun and limber as the funeral vehicle. Muffled drums accompany the graveside processional. The deceased's headdress, insignia and medals are borne on a velvet cushion into the funeral service. Volleys are fired over the grave when the body is interred. Countries in the Commonwealth duplicate the British military drill and ceremony. The Canadian funeral described above typifies the funerary service. The bugle tune Last Post is played as the body is interred.
In Indonesia, military funerals are generally given only military members or former guerrillas, Konfrontasi and Trikora Operation Soldiers, especially those holding the Bintang Gerilya (Star of the Guerrilla). Exceptional politicians and Ministers have the option for such a funeral, but most opt for a more intimate religious one. Music is not performed as it is not part of Indonesian military tradition. A 21-gun volley salute is the norm by seven soldiers- occasionally a mixture of armed forces dependent on their career, Honour drill team is platoon-size formation and larger the more illustrious the departed. A good example of an Indonesian military burial is that of the late president Suharto- (although obvious major differences exist)
In Italy the members of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty are granted a state funeral by decree of the Prime Minister. So the funeral follows the protocol of a state funeral, and in particular the six officers in high uniform who carry the coffin are members of the same Armed Force of the departed.
In Poland, the last fragment of Władysław Tarnowski's song Śpij, kolego ("Sleep, friend"), a portion of the larger composition Jak to na wojence ładnie (the title has no precise English translation, but it is roughly "how nice it is in war", with a diminutive form conveying a sense of ironic solidarity) is an integral part of a military funeral. Also part of it is a three volley salute (salwa honorowa) with the firing party consisting of an armed platoon or company.
In Spain, the formed troops sing "La muerte no es el final": Death is not the End during funeral ceremonies and in all military ceremonies, when the fallen are being honored. The Spanish Legion has an exception: the regimental hymn Novio de la Muerte (Bridegroom of Death) is played in full instead during occasions that the Legion attends.
The British army carries reversed arms at military funerals.
United States of America
In the United States, the United States Army Military District of Washington (MDW) is responsible for providing military funerals. "Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the program for instituting a dignified military funeral with full honors to the nation's veterans.
As of January 1, 2000, Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 of the National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the United States Armed Forces shall provide the rendering of honors in a military funeral for any eligible veteran if requested by his or her family. As mandated by federal law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of no fewer than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent armed service of the deceased veteran. The honor guard detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the flag of the United States to the next of kin and the playing of Taps which will be played by a lone bugler, if available, or by audio recording. Today, there are so few buglers available that the United States Armed Forces often cannot provide one. However, federal law allows Reserve and National Guard units to assist with funeral honors duty when necessary.
- After the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah draped coffins containing their dead in Hezbollah flags with flowers on top. They were given a funeral according to Shiite Muslim traditions, then buried in their hometowns.
- Irish Republican Army members have been accorded military funerals.
- On occasion, deceased soldiers have been accorded military funerals by their enemies (for example, see Manfred von Richthofen).
The military funeral of U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Henry H. Bell held in Hiogo, Japan on January 14, 1868.
Members of the Presidential Salute Guns Battery of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" render a gun salute using three-inch anti-tank guns (modified to 75mm caliber) during a military funeral held at Arlington National Cemetery on August 10, 1998.
Military funeral procession for World War II soldier and Victoria Cross recipient Ernest ("Smokey") Smith in Vancouver, Canada on August 13, 2005.
A casket team from the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" transports the remains of Retired Chief Warrant Officer Michael J. Novosel during a ceremonial funeral procession at Arlington National Cemetery where he was laid to rest on April 13, 2006.
A Canadian honor guard carries the remains of Pte. Sebastien Courcy during a sundown ramp ceremony at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan on July 17, 2009.
- (example- a Minister of Transportation may have been a career Army soldier, became a bureaucrat and assisted the national aviation or maritime industry- thus the corresponding Force would send soldiers as gratitude)
- "Protocol for State Funerals and National Mourning". Official website of the Italian Government - Department of State Ceremonies.
- "Śpij, kolego (score)" (PDF). Polish Army WEB. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
- "Śpij, kolego (mp3)". Polish Army WEB. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
- Polish text "Jak to na wojence ładnie". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "Jak to na wojence ładnie mp3". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "What is Military Funeral Honors?". U.S. Department of Defense.
- Mossman, B.C.; Stark, M.W. (1991). The Last Salute: Civil and Military Funerals 1921-1969. 77-606843: Department of the Army. CMH Pub 90-1.