Military Protocols for Funerals Changed by Order of the White House-Fiction!

Summary of the eRumor:
The message describes a first-hand account from a man who attended the funeral of his uncle, a U.S. Army Korean War combat veteran. The writer said that he knew that when the flag was ceremonially folded and presented to the family the presenter would normally say something like "On behalf of the President of the United States" we thank you for the faithful service of your loved one. At this funeral, however, the presenter substituted "President of the United States" with "Secretary of Defense." The writer later asked the presenter about it and was told that there had been a change in the protocol and that "The White House notified all military funeral service detachments to immediately remove 'the President' and insert 'the Secretary of Defense."
 

The Truth:  
The email is authentic and TruthOrFiction.com communicated with the writer,
John G. Martich of Weirton, WV.  Martich told us this happened on September 3, 2011 at a Pittsburgh cemetery at the funeral of his uncle, U.S. Army Korean War Veteran Daniel Martich.   A spokesperson for U.S. Army Public Affairs Department told TruthOrFiction.com that there has not been any official change in the protocol of presenting the flag to the family of a member of the military who has died.

Martich said he was standing next to his aunt when the flag was presented to her.  He also told us that he used to be employed in the funeral industry, had experienced past military services and was surprised by the variation from the script that he had heard during previous ceremonial handovers of the flag that draped the coffin.

Like Mr. Martich, most people who have attended funerals of military personnel are accustomed to hearing a reference to the President during the presentation of the flag but that is because it's become a tradition to do so, not because it is a required part of official protocol.

The actual wording of the presentation of the flag, according to current U.S. Army regulation, is, "Sir/Ma'm, this flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one."

We checked the web site for Military Funeral Honors Commander's Reference for Authorized Provided Partnership Program, which seems to indicate that the protocol has not changed. The site has scripts of "preferred wording" that vary by military branch and all include mention of the President:

Generally, after "Taps" is sounded, the flag is folded and presented to the appropriate family member.

Stand facing the flag recipient and hold the folded flag waist-high with the straight edge facing the recipient.
Kneel, on one knee, in front of the flag recipient and solemnly present the flag to the recipient.
Present the flag using the veteran's Service preferred wording:

Army:
On behalf of the President of the United States and the people of a grateful nation, may I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service your loved one rendered this nation.

Marine Corps:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and Corps.

Navy:
On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to this Country and a grateful Navy
.
Air Force:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of [Service member's rank and name]. (NOTE: If the next of kin has expressed a religious preference or belief, add: "God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.")

Coast Guard:
On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and the Coast Guard.


updated 09/14/11

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Today I was incensed at the conclusion of a traditional Serbian-Orthodox funeral for my beloved 85 year old uncle, Daniel Martich, who proudly served in the US Army during The Korean Conflict. During the committal service at a Pittsburgh cemetery the local military detachment performed their ritual, then folded and presented the American Flag to my aunt.

 As I'm sure you have witnessed during military funerals, a soldier bends to one knee and recites a scripted message to a surviving relative that begins 'On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I wish to present you with this flag in appreciation for your husband's service ...'.

However, today the dialogue was 'On behalf of the Secretary of Defense and a grateful nation ...' After the service I approached the soldier who presented the flag to my aunt to inquire about the change in language. His response was "The White House notified all military funeral service detachments to immediately remove 'the President' and insert 'the Secretary of Defense'.

I couldn't believe what I heard and the soldier smiled and said "You can draw your own conclusion sir but that was the order". He, too, was ashamed of what he was required to say. This president has taken off the gloves. My only response to this endless cesspool of Anti-American rhetoric dripping from his mouth is to borrow a phrase (with one minor change) uttered by another temporary Washington resident living in government housing: "Today for the first time in my adult life I was ASHAMED of my country". I did not serve in the military but my love of country parallels that of people like my late uncle who bled Red, White and Blue.

As a second generation Serbian-American who's heritage produced many patriotic military men and women who fought for freedom both in The United States as well as in the former Yugoslavia (most recently in Kosovo against the slaughter of Serbs by Muslim extremists) I implore you to make the American people aware of this little-known or, at least, publicly acknowledged fact. May God Bless you and your family during these difficult times. Your voice of reason is a welcome change from the insanity plastered across the country by the liberal media. Keep up the great work and thank you for your service to our country.

Sincerely, John G. Martich,  Weirton WV.