Memorials with Love

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes: The Symbolism and Protocol of Military Funeral Flags

Honoring Our Heroes: The Symbolism and Protocol of Military Funeral FlagsWhen we see the iconic image of a flag-draped coffin, our hearts swell with admiration and respect for those who have served in the military. Military funeral flags hold a deep symbolism, representing the sacrifice and bravery of our fallen heroes.

In this article, we will explore the purpose and recipients of these flags, as well as their size, symbolism, and folding protocol.

Military Funeral Flags

Purpose and Description of Military Funeral Flags

– Military funeral flags, also known as United States flags, are solemnly draped over the coffins of deceased members of the military services. These flags serve as a heartfelt tribute to those who have bravely served our nation.

– The flags are made of durable materials, ensuring that they withstand the elements during the funeral service. Each flag measures approximately 5 feet by 9-1/2 feet, making it twice the size of a standard household flag.

– When draped, the flag covers the entire coffin, with the union, or blue field with stars, placed at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. This symbolic gesture reminds us of the unity and strength of our nation.

Recipients and Distribution of Military Funeral Flags

– The closest surviving family member of the deceased is generally the recipient of the military funeral flag. This can include the spouse, parents, or next of kin, depending on the individual circumstances.

– The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing military funeral flags to honorably discharged and retired veterans. These flags are also available to active duty service members and certain civilians who have notable connections to the military.

– To request a flag, the family or representative must complete an application, which can be obtained from the local VA office or funeral director. The flag can then be presented during the funeral service, with utmost respect and gratitude.

Size and Symbolism of Military Burial Flags

Size of Military Burial Flags

– As mentioned earlier, military burial flags measure 5 feet by 9-1/2 feet, making them significantly larger than standard household flags. This size represents the grandeur and importance of the sacrifice made by the deceased.

– The larger size also contributes to the visual impact of the flag when draped over a coffin. It commands attention and evokes a sense of deep reverence and gratitude.

Symbolism and Folding of Military Burial Flags

– The symbolism of military burial flags extends beyond their size and placement. When not being presented or draped, these flags are meticulously folded in a specific manner.

– The triangular shape created by the folding process symbolizes the tri-corner hats worn by the soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Each fold carries its own significance and meaning.

– The flag is folded thirteen times, representing the thirteen original colonies of the United States. The final result is a tightly folded triangle, with only the stars showing on the uppermost fold.

– This careful folding protocol serves as a reminder of the values and principles on which our nation was founded. The stars, prominently displayed, remind us of the united spirit and sense of purpose that has guided our country.

– Additionally, each fold is accompanied by a verbal reflection on the significance of that particular fold, including references to our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

In conclusion, military funeral flags hold a profound significance, serving as a powerful symbol of honor and sacrifice. By understanding the purpose and protocol surrounding these flags, we can ensure that we properly express our gratitude to those who have bravely served our country.

Whether we witness the flag-draped coffin of a fallen hero or witness the precise folding of a military burial flag, let us never forget the sacrifices made and the legacy left behind by our military service members.

Options for Handling a Military Funeral Flag

Flying the Flag

Flying the flag in honor of a loved one who served in the military is a noble and patriotic gesture. However, it is important to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the flag code to show proper respect.

When flying a military funeral flag:

1. Ensure that the flag is in good condition.

A torn or tattered flag should be retired and replaced with a new one. 2.

The flag should always be flown on a sturdy flagpole. It should be raised briskly and lowered slowly with respect and dignity.

3. Never let the flag touch the ground, as this is considered disrespectful.

If the flag accidentally touches the ground, it should be cleaned and repaired before being flown again. 4.

When flying the flag at half-staff, it should first be raised to the peak for a moment before being lowered to the halfway position. On Memorial Day, it should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to the peak for the rest of the day.

By following these guidelines, we can honor our fallen heroes and demonstrate our gratitude for their service.

Displaying the Flag in a Funeral Flag Case

Displaying a military funeral flag in a flag case is a popular way to honor the fallen and keep their memory alive. Funeral flag cases are specifically designed to showcase the folded flag in a respectful and dignified manner.

Here are a few options for displaying the flag in a funeral flag case:

1. Wall Display: Many funeral flag cases are designed to be mounted on the wall, either horizontally or vertically.

This allows the flag to be prominently displayed in a place of honor, such as a living room or study. The case typically has a glass front to protect the flag from dust and damage.

2. Mantle Display: Another popular option is to display the flag on a mantle or shelf.

Funeral flag cases with a base allow for easy placement on a flat surface. This type of display is ideal for those who want to create a personalized memorial space in their home.

Creating a DIY Flag Case

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can also make your own flag case to hold and display the military funeral flag. DIY flag cases can be personalized and customized to suit your taste and preferences.

Here’s a simple tutorial to make your own flag case:

Materials Needed:

– 3 pieces of wood (such as oak or pine) – one measuring 25 inches long, one measuring 12 inches long, and one measuring 14 inches long

– Wood glue

– Clamps

– Nails or screws

– Sandpaper

– Stain or paint

– Varnish or lacquer

– Glass or Plexiglas sheet

– Backing material (felt or velvet)


1. Cut the three pieces of wood to the appropriate lengths.

The 25-inch piece will serve as the back of the case, the 12-inch piece will be the top, and the 14-inch piece will be the bottom. 2.

Sand the edges and surfaces of the wood to ensure a smooth finish. 3.

Apply wood glue to the edges of the shorter pieces and attach them to the longer piece, forming a rectangular shape. Secure with clamps and allow the glue to dry.

4. Once the glue has dried, reinforce the joints with nails or screws.

5. Sand the entire case to remove any rough spots or imperfections.

Wipe away any dust with a clean cloth. 6.

Apply stain or paint to the case, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the first coat to dry, then apply additional coats as desired.

7. Once the stain or paint is dry, apply a layer of varnish or lacquer to protect the wood and give it a glossy finish.

8. Attach a glass or Plexiglas sheet to the front of the case using small nails or screws.

Be careful not to crack or break the glass during this step. 9.

Cut a piece of backing material to fit the inside of the case. This will provide a soft surface for the flag to rest against.

Attach the backing material using adhesive or small nails. 10.

Carefully place the folded flag inside the case, ensuring that it is centered and displayed properly. By creating your own flag case, you can add a personal touch to the display of your loved one’s military funeral flag.

Types of Military Flag Displays

Personalized Heritage Military Flag Case

The Personalized Heritage Military Flag Case is a premium option for displaying a military funeral flag. Made from solid walnut wood, this flag case exudes elegance and craftsmanship.

It features a glass front panel to protect the flag and a hinged lid for easy access. What sets this flag case apart is the customizable medallion and personalized name plate that can be engraved with the details of your loved one’s service.

This added personalization adds a heartfelt touch and ensures that their memory is forever cherished.

Five Star General Military Flag Case

For those seeking a more regal display, the

Five Star General Military Flag Case is an excellent choice. Crafted from solid cherry wood, this flag case is a true work of art.

It is hand-painted with gold accents and features a glass front panel to showcase the flag. The flag case is designed to hold a 5′ x 9-1/2′ burial flag, making it suitable for most military funeral flags.

With its attention to detail and luxurious finish, this flag case is a fitting tribute to any distinguished member of the military. Capitol Burial Flag Case for 3′ x 5′ Military Flags

For those who are searching for a flag case that can hold a smaller 3′ x 5′ military flag, the Capitol Burial Flag Case is an ideal choice.

Available in Oak, Cherry, or Heirloom Walnut, this flag case exemplifies timeless beauty. It is expertly crafted and features a glass front panel to protect and display the flag.

Inside, a plush velvet backing provides a soft surface for the flag to rest against. With its classic design and premium materials, this flag case is a stunning way to honor the memory of a loved one.

Military Burial Flag Case & Memorabilia Display

For those who wish to showcase more than just the flag, the Military Burial Flag Case & Memorabilia Display is the perfect option. Made from beautiful walnut wood, this flag case features an acrylic-front display case on top.

This enables you to display additional items such as medals, service ribbons, or photographs alongside the folded flag. With its spacious design and elegant finish, this flag case provides a meaningful way to honor and remember a loved one’s military service.

Urn Base for Military Flag Displays

For families who choose cremation, an

Urn Base for Military Flag Displays offers a unique way to combine the flag and the cremated remains. This special type of flag case features a compartment in the base where the urn can be securely placed.

The flag is displayed in the customary manner, draped over the front of the case. This integrated display allows for a beautiful and meaningful tribute, combining the symbol of the flag with the presence of the deceased’s cremated remains.

In conclusion, there are numerous options available for handling and displaying a military funeral flag. Whether you choose to fly the flag, display it in a funeral flag case, create a DIY flag case, or select one of the many types of military flag displays, the most important thing is to show honor and respect to our fallen heroes.

By carefully selecting a flag display that suits your preferences and properly showcases the flag, you can create a beautiful and lasting tribute to their service and sacrifice.

Military Funeral Flag Etiquette

Unfolding and Displaying the Flag

Unfolding and displaying a military funeral flag should be done with utmost care and respect. Here are some guidelines for properly unfolding and displaying the flag:


Unfolding the Flag: Begin by finding a clean and spacious area to unfold the flag. Lay it flat with the blue field on top and carefully unfold it lengthwise.

Take care not to let the flag touch the ground or any other surfaces. 2.

Displaying on a Flagpole: If you choose to display the flag on a flagpole, follow proper flag etiquette. The union, or blue field, should always be at the top and to the observer’s left.

Raise the flag briskly and lower it slowly, ensuring that it does not touch the ground. 3.

Displaying Flat on a Wall: When displaying the flag flat against a wall, whether horizontally or vertically, ensure that the union is in the upper left corner. This reflects the proper positioning, as if the flag were being flown on a flagpole.

The flag should be centered and secured properly to prevent it from sagging or falling. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that the flag is displayed in a dignified and respectful manner.

Displaying a Military Burial Flag

When displaying a military burial flag, there are additional considerations to keep in mind. Here are some tips on how to properly display a military burial flag:


Horizontal Display: When displaying the flag horizontally, whether on a flat surface or in a display case, ensure that the union is in the upper left corner. This will position the flag correctly and reflect the proper flag etiquette.

2. Vertical Display: If you choose to display the flag vertically, the union should still be in the upper left corner.

This will maintain the proper positioning and show respect to the flag. 3.

Stars and Union: The union, with its field of stars, should always be displayed in the upper left corner. This is a symbol of the strength and unity of our nation.

Ensure that it is positioned correctly and that the stars are facing upward. Remember, proper flag etiquette is important when displaying a military burial flag.

By following these guidelines, you can honor the flag and pay tribute to the memory of those who have served.

Disposal of Unwanted Funeral Flags

Giving the Flag to Friends or Family

When you no longer wish to keep a funeral flag, one option is to give it to friends or family members who may appreciate its significance. Before giving the flag away, it is important to ask if they are interested in receiving it.

Some individuals may consider it an honor and a meaningful keepsake, while others may prefer not to have it. By giving the flag to someone who understands its importance and will treat it with respect, you can ensure that the flag continues to be cherished and appreciated.

Donating Flags to Organizations

If you do not have friends or family who wish to receive the funeral flag, consider donating it to an organization that might benefit from it. There are several options for donating funeral flags:


Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): The VA may accept donated flags and use them to honor veterans during various events and ceremonies. Contact your local VA office or cemetery to inquire about their flag donation program.

2. American Legion: The American Legion, a veterans’ organization, may also accept donated flags for ceremonial purposes.

Get in touch with your local American Legion post to find out if they have a flag donation program. 3.

Recruitment Centers: Military recruitment centers may appreciate donated funeral flags to use as part of their recruitment efforts. Contact your local recruitment center to see if they accept such donations.

By donating an unwanted funeral flag, you ensure that it continues to serve a meaningful purpose and honors the memory of those who have served in the military.

Treating the Flag with Respect

Regardless of whether you choose to give the flag to friends, family, or an organization, it is essential to treat the flag with respect throughout the process. Remember that the flag is a symbol of our nation and represents the sacrifice and service of our military members.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

1. Proper Handling: Always handle the flag with clean hands, ensuring that it does not touch the ground or any other surfaces that may soil or damage it.

2. Respectful Packing: If you are giving the flag to someone, carefully fold it using the proper folding protocol.

Use clean and dry hands when handling the flag and place it in a protective case or packaging that will keep it clean and safe during transportation. 3.

Communication: When donating the flag to an organization or giving it to friends or family, communicate the importance of treating the flag with respect. Share the guidelines for proper flag etiquette so that the recipient understands the significance and can properly care for the flag.

By treating the flag with respect and ensuring that its new custodians understand its value, you can ensure that it continues to be honored and cherished. In conclusion, when handling and disposing of an unwanted funeral flag, it is important to do so with respect and care.

By properly folding and displaying the flag, or by giving it to someone who appreciates its significance, we can honor the memory of those who have served and continue to show our gratitude for their sacrifice. By understanding the guidelines for flag etiquette and properly communicating them, we can ensure that the flag is treated with the respect it deserves.

In conclusion, understanding the protocol and etiquette surrounding military funeral flags is crucial to honoring the sacrifices and service of our fallen heroes. From the purpose and distribution of the flags to their symbolism and folding procedures, each aspect holds deep meaning.

Whether it’s through flying the flag, displaying it in a flag case, or properly disposing of unwanted flags, we can show our respect and gratitude. Remember, the flag is not just a piece of cloth; it is a symbol that represents the values and principles on which our nation was built.

By treating the flag with the utmost respect, we honor the memory of those who selflessly served our country. Let us always remember the significance of these flags and the brave individuals they represent.

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