The truth: U.S. active duty or veteran military members deserve proper respect for the title they earned and honor for serving our Country at their funeral. Recently, I have been party to discussions that some (few) funeral professionals just get this flat wrong. When it comes to military affairs and funerals there is no room for debate or opinion. Anything short of our best effort is unprofessional and disrespectful.
One of the great attributes that the military provides for those that offer their life (only 1% of all US citizens) is the complete understanding of (and adherence to) regulations, standards and protocol. The culture of discipline and following the chain of command ensures success from the most insignificant tasks to major initiatives. Follow the rules, your leaders and do your job. All of the success is not just happenstance; training takes place every day to perfect the standards of operation and organizational effectiveness.
A service-member has earned a title, whether it is Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman. It is also customary to address that person by their rank; Corporal, Sergeant, Chief, Captain or the like. Yes they are ladies and gentlemen, but they earned a title and rank which distinguishes them from all others, period. By taking some time to understand the particulars about the military member (branch & rank) by funeral directors prior to engaging family or others, our profession is elevated. Trust me, for those of us that know the difference, it makes a difference.
One great debate ensued with a group funeral directors about proper folds of a flag while resting on a casket. I hate to even share this, but there was actually a funeral director that stated, “I was taught this way and I don’t care who likes it or not, that’s the way we do it,” when referring to how they incorrectly fold the U.S. flag on caskets of veterans at his funeral home. If you read my blog or know me, I love a great debate. But I get pissed off and downright indignant when people, and I don’t care who you are, disrespect our country, our military or our flag.
In an effort to educate rather than humiliate, how about we read the link Congressional Research Service that provides information for proper uses of the flag. More relevant information: Flag Casket Placement: http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-27-2008-ARE.pdf; Navy: http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/casualty/Documents/NAVPERS%2015555D.pdf; Army: http://www.armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/dr_pubs/dr_a/pdf/atp1_05x02.pdf; Marine Corps: http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO%203040.4.pdf; Air Force: http://www.mortuary.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-141110-023.pdf
If you take the time to read the information provided above, it’s blatantly obvious that, “we’ve always done it that way,” doesn’t cut it for military funerals. As a point, wouldn’t it be great if all funeral homes had such detail in their operating manual and regularly trained on these along with other funeral related topics? Well, some of us do, but that’s another subject.
The truth is that Military funerals are special and deserving of professionalism by those of us that provide the service. If you don’t know, ask. Most states have a National Guard burial detail and local military organizations like the VFW are always willing to lend a hand. Don’t make it up, there are those of us that know the difference. As one of them, Cheers Y’all. The Funeral Commander #thefuneralcommander