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

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

Summary of 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

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