Our flag is a central symbol of American culture. It focuses our attention on what it means to be American. We can find flags everywhere. We can find them in front of federal and public buildings, on top of roofs and porches in residential homes, and even at funerals.
The latter category may surprise you, but if your loved one is a veteran, the US military will offer you one American flag for their funeral. That’s just one fact related to the ins and outs of burial flags in the United States.
The History of the Burial Flag
The burial flag has a long and varied history. The custom of draping a national flag over a casket began during the Napoleonic Wars. The dead were carried from the battlefield and their coffins were draped with flags. This was still in the early stages before the custom took hold for the American military forces, but it still deserves some mention.
Who’s Eligible for a Burial Flag?
All deceased veterans are eligible for one flag used at their funeral to honor them for their service. This is a huge part of cultural and traditional military funeral etiquette. But did you know that a patriotic citizen can also requests a burial flag from the federal government? They’d have to pay for it themselves, however. While the latter option may seem odd, some people do it, and they consider it an honor.
Flag Usage After the Funeral
The flag is always given to the next-of-kin after the funeral, but did you know there’s a controversy regarding what the next-of-kin should do with that flag? This nuanced discussion is needed when you want to explore the ins and outs of burial flags. Some people display the flag folded neatly in a display box, never to be flown again. Many people never want to fly the flag after the funeral because they feel it’s disrespectful, while others say it’s an honor. In addition, some people donate burial flags to national cemeteries, putting their patriotism to work. Burial flags hold solemn symbolism for our veterans, private citizens, and government, no matter where the flag is displayed.