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 As with the military itself, our armed forces' final farewell to
comrades is steeped in tradition and ceremony.

1.  Prominent in a military funeral is the flag-draped casket. The blue
field of the flag is placed at the head of the casket, over the left
shoulder of the deceased. The custom began in the Napoleonic Wars of the
late 18th and early 19th centuries, when a flag was used to cover the
dead as they were taken from the battlefield on a caisson.

2.  One will notice, during a military funeral that the horses that pull
the caisson which bears the body of the veteran are all saddled, but the
horses on the left have riders, while the horses on the right do not.
This custom evolved from the days when horse-drawn caissons were the
primary means of moving artillery ammunition and cannon, and the
riderless horses carried provisions.

3.  The single riderless horse that follows the caisson with boots
reversed in the stirrups is called the "caparisoned horse" in reference
to its ornamental coverings, which have a detailed protocol all to
themselves. By tradition in military funeral honors, a caparisoned horse
follows the casket of an Army or Marine Corps officer who was a colonel
or above, or the casket of a president, by virtue of having been the
nation's military commander in chief.  The custom is believed to date
back to the time of Genghis Khan, when a horse was sacrificed to serve
the fallen warrior in the next world. The caparisoned horse later came
to symbolize a warrior who would ride no more. Abraham Lincoln, who was
killed in 1865, was the first U.S. president to be honored with a
caparisoned horse at his funeral.

4.  Graveside military honors include the firing of three volleys each
by seven service members. This commonly is confused with an entirely
separate honor, the 21-gun salute. But the number of individual gun
firings in both honors evolved the same way.
    a.   The three volleys came from an old battlefield custom. The two
warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the
battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had
been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle.
    b.  The 21-gun salute traces its roots to the Anglo-Saxon empire,
when seven guns constituted a recognized naval salute, as most naval
vessels had seven guns. Because gunpowder in those days could be more
easily stored on land than at sea, guns on land could fire three rounds
for every one that could be fired by a ship at sea.
    c.  Later, as gunpowder and storage methods improved, salutes at
sea also began using 21 guns. The United States at first used one round
for each state, attaining the 21-gun salute by 1818. The nation reduced
its salute to 21 guns in 1841, and formally adopted the 21-gun salute at
the suggestion of the British in 1875.

5.  A U.S. presidential death also involves other ceremonial gun salutes
and military traditions. On the day after the death of the president, a
former president or president-elect -- unless this day falls on a Sunday
or holiday, in which case the honor will rendered the following day --
the commanders of Army installations with the necessary personnel and
material traditionally order that one gun be fired every half hour,
beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.

6.  On the day of burial, a 21-minute gun salute traditionally is fired
starting at noon at all military installations with the necessary
personnel and material. Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals. Also
on the day of burial, those installations will fire a 50-gun salute --
one round for each state -- at five- second intervals immediately
following lowering of the flag.

7.  The playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes" announces the arrival of a
flag officer or other dignitary of honor. Drums play the ruffles, and
bugles play the flourishes - one flourish for each star of the flag
officer's rank or as appropriate for the honoree's position or title.
Four flourishes is the highest honor.
When played for a president, "Ruffles and Flourishes" is followed by
"Hail to the Chief," which is believed to have been written in England
in 1810 or 1811 by James Sanderson for a play by Sir Walter Scott called
"The Lady of the Lake." The play began to be performed in the United
States in 1812, the song became popular, and it became a favorite of
bands at festive events. It evolved to be used as a greeting for
important visitors, and eventually for the president, though no record
exists of when it was first put to that use.

8.  The bugle call "Taps" originated in the Civil War with the Army of
the Potomac. Union Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield didn't like the
bugle call that signaled soldiers in the camp to put out the lights and
go to sleep, and worked out the melody of "Taps" with his brigade
bugler, Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton. The call later came into another use
as a figurative call to the sleep of death for soldiers. Another
military honor dates back only to the 20th century.

9. The missing-man formation usually is a four-aircraft formation with
the No. 3 aircraft either missing or performing a pull-up maneuver and
leaving the formation to signify a lost comrade in arms.

10. While this can change slightly from service-to-service, and -- based
on preferences of family members, below is the standard sequence of
events for a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery:

. The caisson or hearse arrives at grave site, everyone presents arms.
.  Casket team secures the casket, NCOIC, OIC and chaplain salute.
.  Chaplain leads the way to grave site, followed by casket team.
.  Casket team sets down the casket and secures the flag.
.  The NCOIC ensures the flag is stretched out and level, and centered
over the casket.
.  NCOIC backs away and the chaplain, military or civilian, will perform
the service.
.  At conclusion of interment service and before benediction, a gun
salute is fired for those eligible ( i.e. general officers).
.  Chaplain concludes his service and backs away, NCOIC steps up to the
.  The NCOIC presents arms to initiate the rifle volley.
.  Rifle volley complete, bugler plays "Taps."
.  Casket-team leader starts to fold the flag.
.  Flag fold complete, and the flag is passed to the NCOIC, OIC.
.  Casket team leaves grave site.
.  NCOIC, OIC either presents the flag to the next of kin, or if there
is a military chaplain on site he will present the flag to the chaplain,
and then the chaplain will present to the next of kin.
.  Arlington Lady presents card of condolences to the next of kin.
.  The only person remaining at the grave is one soldier, the vigil. His
mission is to watch over the body until it is interred into the ground.
[Source: Jul 07 ++]

Dear Fellow American,
The families of our fallen heroes need your support. When a service member gives the GREATEST SACRIFICE, what happens to the family? I am writing you on behalf of HUGSS Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors. A Gold Star family is a family who has lost a family member due to war.
HUGSS' mission is to serve the needs of families who have lost loved ones during the War in Afghanistan & Iraq. These families have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. The War on Terror has changed so many lives of our fellow Americans. There are many complicated grief issues for a military family that many of us do not consider. Such as:
Having their loved one die a violent death
At times, not being able to view the body (It is how the family accepts the death and how they say good bye. Too, some cultures and religions have special ceremonies they cannot practice without a body.)
Making decisions in the middle of their most difficult stages of grief.
Where to bury their loved one (Their family may be from the South and spouse from the North, etc.)
Having to decide where to move
Removing children and themselves out of their environment
Financial decisions
Losing not just their loved one, but their entire way of life
News and public opinion, often negative, of the war effort constantly in the news (No matter where the family is on the war issue, negative public sentiment hurts.)
Our Nations war on terrorism has made many young women & men widows/widowers. It has left all too many children without a parent and many parents and siblings without their loved one. These young Americans, many of whom joined the service after 9-11 or after the war, started to defend our Nation, have lost their lives. As a result, their families' lives have been changed forever. Many Gold Star families wonder:
"Will anyone remember what my loved one died for?"
"Does anyone care that my dad died in Iraq?"
"Did my son give his life for this country just to be forgotten?"
You can easily make a difference in these families' lives. We need to show them that we appreciate their sacrifice.
In an article by Glamour magazine, "A Town of War Widows," the widows of Fort Hood express the turmoil they go through every day. These women in the Gold Star families are remarkable in the fact that they can all support each other despite what they have been through. This is why we are asking you to help out these families in need. They cannot solely depend on each other and the government to support them. These families need you.
We are all living the American dream, but that dream has a price which these families are paying. Memorial Day is not just a long weekend for Gold Star families, it is a time to reflect on their loved one and hope that the citizens of our great nation are appreciative of all they have lost
As an army wife of 26 years, with a husband and son deployed, I feel strongly that it is not just our government's responsibility to care for these families. It is our responsibility as Americans. I believe it says something about who we are as Americans whether or not we extend a helping hand to these families.
HUGSS coordinates many programs for the Gold Star families. We offer grief camps & retreats for children and adults, support services, and community training. HUGSS' main focus is to continue to reach out to families during holidays and difficult days such as birthday or date of death of their loved one to show support and offer assistance as needed. We offer resources and community support services no matter where the families may live across this Nation. The concept of HUGSS was designed and approved in part by Gold Star families. Currently, three Gold Star Families serve on the HUGSS' board of directors.
To keep our focus strong, HUGSS' has another goal. We want to be able to open Gold Star Support Centers across the country. Eventually, we want to be able to have a support center at every military installation where there is a need. We have been in contact with several military installations that would love to have our support and partner with us to care for this Nation's fallen heroes families.
HUGSS is a non-profit, charitable organization and is located on the largest military base in the world, Fort Hood, Texas. To achieve this goal would be a tremendous feat for the organization. Each new center will cost over $250,000 while partnering with military installations to provide the facilities and contact information on their families. Though this may seem like a great reach, nothing is impossible for Americans who believe in supporting those who sacrifice so much for our Nation.
Our organization relies on the donations of supportive Americans. We do not receive any federal money. That is why we are only asking for a donation of $25 or $35. This tax-deductible gift will greatly impact our efforts to support our Gold Star families. Not only will your donation help our cause, but it will also show the families that we appreciate them and the bravery of our fallen heroes. With your help and that of other fellow Americans, we can all make this possible.
Thank you and God Bless,
Debbie Busch
Director & Founder of HUGSS
P.S. Your special donation will do far more than you can imagine. Not only will you help a family get through perhaps the roughest time they will ever experience, but you'll let our other servicemen and women know that you're behind them 100 percent! Please go to to make your donation and learn more about HUGSS.

HUGSS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax-deductible. HUGSS is independent from the Department of Defense programs.

If you prefer to donate by check, please mail your donation to:
P.O. Box 5773
Fort Hood, TX 76544
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