Military Life

What To Expect and How To Prepare For a Military Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery

Going to a funeral is unbelievably hard, whether it’s for one of your loved ones, a friend, or someone you worked or served with. Going to a military funeral has the added complexity of a more intricate schedule and a larger, perhaps unfamiliar setting.

To assist with your plans or arrangements, we have put together some information about Arlington National Cemetery, what to expect, and other helpful details for attending a military cemetery at this Virginia landmark, which serves as the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families.

What To Expect

To honor the service member with dignity and respect, the service itself will be conducted by someone the family chooses in a committal shelter that is not at the gravesite. In this service, readings and military honors will be read. There will be someone to guide family members from the front gates to the shelter.

If the family members choose to have funeral honors, uniformed military member will play taps, a rifle detail will fire their weapons, and present the next of kin with the burial flag. We do advise if there are any family members that are sensitive to loud noises to step away at this point to avoid any issues of concern.

You may bring flowers to a military funeral at Arlington. They can go with the casket or urn when it’s taken from the committal shelter to the gravesite. You may visit the gravesite, but it’s advised you do so at the end of the workday rather than immediately following the ceremony.

Services generally last 20 to 30 minutes. Funeral start times are sometimes listed on the Arlington National Cemetery website if you’re unsure when it starts.

Order Of Events

The times and order of events will be provided to the family prior to the service. The order of events is as follows:

1 hour to 45 minutes before the service:

  • If funeral services begin at the Old Post Chapel, you should report to Fort Myer at least one hour early.

45 minutes prior:

  • Family and guests arrive at the cemetery on Memorial Ave.
  • Gate guards direct everyone where to park.
  • A receptionist will guide visitors to their assigned room.

10 to 15 minutes before the service begins:

  • Those attending the funeral will be led to where the service will begin.
  • The procession departs from the queueing lanes to the gravesite or transfer point.

Where To Stay

If you’re coming from out of town, there are many hotels near Arlington National Cemetery. The Hyatt Place Arlington/Courthouse Plaza is less than 3 miles away from Arlington National Cemetery. It features spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi and offers guests a daily breakfast buffet. The Residence Inn by Marriott Arlington Courthouse is also quite close. It offers an in-house restaurant and Wi-Fi to its guests. The Inn of Rosslyn is a nearby motel that offers a free breakfast to its guests. It offers good value for budget-minded travelers.

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