Military, police or firefighter funeral traditions

military funerals

Military, Police or Firefighter ceremonies can carry with them special traditions and special customs which may be requested by the deceased. Obviously these type of ceremonies are only for people who either served or those for whom a very special exception is made. Exceptions are not common however as the rites and customs can involve a large number of personnel who will need to make arrangements around a normal working day, which can vary widely depending on the role.

Who to consult with?

As the ceremonies can vary widely depending on the local tradition or even the wishes of the deceased it’s is advisable to consult with his or her workmates to get a good idea of the logistics involved. Local organisations like unions (Police or Firefighters union) or other representative bodies (veterans associations) may also be capable of helping or at least able to point you in the right direction. It can also be helpful to consult with those in his or her close circle at work first before progressing.

Conflicts between religion and service personnel funerals

You should be aware that some, but not all, religions do not permit military or other service person honours or imagery at funerals and as such you may need to work around this. Ordinarily both the viewing or “wake” section along with the after funeral reception of the ceremonies are usually non religious and can include these services. The carrying of the coffin and graveside vigils may also allow for these specialised tributes however this again can be forbidden in some religious ceremonies.

What parts of the ceremony will they be involved in

While different service personnel will take different roles within the funeral the main involvements of these groups can be broken into 4 main areas. Customs and local traditions do vary with some groups doing very unique things so by no means is this an exhaustive list.

Carrying the coffin – physically carrying the coffin from one location to another (like from the funeral home to the hearse)
A guard of honour – this may be done with personnel lining both sides as the coffin passes.
Graveside salutes – this can involve gun salutes or simple hand or customary salutes and commands.
Use of service vehicles following the coffin – at times service vehicles can be used to carry the coffin or to create a convoy to denote importance.

All over the world their are different traditions for these types of ceremonies. Why not share your experiences in the comments section below.

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