Final Salute

Posted April 9, 2020

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With the suspension of formal services and ceremonies at national cemeteries and elsewhere the nation’s deceased are laid to rest, there is a feeling of ‘unfinished business’ among families of those servicemen & servicewomen.

At Veterans Funeral Care our initiative is to offer a formal uniformed flag presentation to a widow or other immediate family.  As a military veteran, permission was granted by military authorities to honor my fellow veteran during this time of the coronavirus pandemic by putting back on my uniform and presenting the flag we both served under.

One knee down, flag in hand, looking a saddened widow in the eye was enough to get the lump in throat and eye tingle going.  The words, which I’ve said at least three dozen times, still weigh more than any man.  After standing at attention and rendering a final salute, she wept delicately before me as did her son seated next to her.  The gratitude and thanks they rained down upon me was genuine as was mine back to them for being open to a short time together at home.

While this is not done for some powerful emotional payoff for anyone, there is an electricity that we all feel during this brief process of properly presenting a ceremony flag to a widow.  The purpose of mouthing the words, maintaining eye contact, being genuine, and rendering a salute is to show love and appreciation to/for someone WE have never met that chose to wear the uniform of our United States Military.   A final salute no matter from how close or far away it comes really means something.  Something IS always better than nothing for veterans and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who gets a 21-gun salute at a military funeral?

The U.S. military fires a 21-gun salute in honor of a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the president, ex-presidents and president-elect of the United States.

Who gets a full military honors funeral?

Those in active duty or Selected Reserve in the United States Armed Forces. Former active duty or Selected Reserve who departed under conditions other than dishonorable in the United States Armed Forces.

When a veteran dies who gets the flag?

The flag is presented to the deceased’s next of kin.  After receiving the flag, it is tradition among the family members to preserve for display in the house.

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