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What to Expect at a Memorial Service

We carry out memorial services at national cemeteries with dignity and respect. Find out what happens at a memorial service.

What happens during the ceremony?

The ceremony, including any readings or military honors, takes place at a special area called a committal shelter (not at the gravesite). The family chooses someone to perform this short ceremony. A cemetery official is there to show guests and family members where they should go.

The family may choose to have military funeral honors. This may include the playing of “Taps,” a rifle detail, a color guard, or uniformed Servicemembers who present the burial flag.

People attending the ceremony may:

  • Bring flowers, which may go with the casket or urn when it’s taken from the committal shelter to the gravesite, and
  • Visit the gravesite at the end of the workday, but not immediately following the ceremony

Funerals at Arlington National Cemetery are different. Learn about Arlington National Cemetery funerals.

Note: If you requested a headstone, marker, or medallion, we’ll arrange for it to be delivered within 60 days. Learn about headstones, markers, and medallions.