If you have a veteran of the armed forces in your family who has passed away, you'll likely want to move forward with planning a military funeral. The exact elements that you'll include in the funeral service are up to you, but you'll commonly want to honor the life of the veteran in a special way — especially if he or she has died while serving the country. The value that society rightfully puts on veterans means that veterans' funerals can often be different from those of civilians. Here are some things that you can expect at the funeral service.
A Media Turnout
Media outlets will commonly cover veterans' funerals. This is especially true in the case of a recent death, given the publicity that fallen heroes get. Initially, you might feel a little as though the media is invading your privacy and that of your family, but it's important to remember that the media is only doing its job — and that job is to share the story of your loved one's life with readers and viewers. Often, there will be a combination of not only community and state media outlets, but also perhaps some national outlets in attendance.
Attendees You Don't Know
For the average funeral, it's common to know many of the attendees. Even if you don't know someone personally, you'll often find that you met the person years ago or that you've heard someone in your family talk about this person. At a veteran's funeral, you can expect that there will be a large volume of attendees you don't know. Community members — veterans and civilians alike — will often attend veterans' funerals as a way to show respect. You may appreciate the large turnout, as it will show just how many people are standing behind you at this difficult time.
Items Left At The Gravesite
Toward the end of the funeral, especially if it occurs at the grave site, you can also expect that people will leave mementos around your loved one's headstone. This could come as a shock initially, so being prepared for it will help you to feel better. While people sometimes leave flower bouquets at grave sites following funeral services, you can expect other things for veterans. Lots of people will leave small American flags, children may write letters or leave artwork, and others will leave flag lapel pins. Each of these elements is common at veterans' funerals and may also be present at the service that honors your loved one.
To learn more, contact a funeral home that offers veterans' funeral packages.