1. How do I obtain an American Flag for my loved ones funeral service?
Flags are most easily obtained from the mortuary or crematorium that cared for your loved one after they passed. They can also be obtained through the VA's website or at a local U.S. Post Office. You will be required to provide a completed VA Form 21-2008 and a copy of the Veteran's DD Form 214 (military discharge papers).
2. Is there a cost for funeral Honor Guard or Color Guard services?
The price for our services was paid in full by the veteran's honorable service to their country. We consider it an honor and privilege to pay them back and serve them in return. Should the family feel compelled to do so, donations are humbly accepted, but not expected. Any donations we receive are used solely to purchase and maintain uniforms and equipment. Individual team members are never paid for their services.
Similarly, our team considers it our duty and an honor to guard the Colors that represent our Country and its honored institutions. As such, we do this at no charge. For those organizations that are able, we do accept and appreciate donations for Color Guard services as a means of maintaining our uniforms and equipment to the highest possible standards.
3. What are the meanings of the 13 folds of the American Flag?
The traditional folding of the American Flag that creates the triangle shape is not done because of a specific meaning. Traditional flag etiquette prescribes that before a flag is presented or stored, it should be folded twice in half on the length and then, from the end opposite of the blue field, folded in a triangular fashion until the other end is reached. The remaining material at the end of the triangular folds is to be tucked inside the folds of the flag to secure its shape.
This ceremonial style of folding was created to provide a dignified touch that distinguishes our flag from the folding of any ordinary piece of linen. Although the author of "Why the American Flag is folded 13 times," is unknown; it is known that the 13 meanings have subsequently come to each of the folds only because the flag is folded 13 times. Many people and organizations have gotten to a point that this symbolic, but after the fact meaning, has become confused with the true original purpose.
4. Why are three brass bullet casings presented at Military Funerals?
The three casings, one from each of the three volleys of fire, are retrieved from the ground after the rifle salute and presented to the next-of-kin. Each casing is a representation of the three volleys fired and have come to be known to represent Duty, Honor, and Country. The three brass casings are presented as a keepsake for the next of kin in remembrance of the military honors provided for their loved one.
In past practice, the three casings were tucked within the folds of the American Flag that is presented to the next of kin, but that has since been changed. Too many families would unfold the flag to retrieve the casings from inside and it is against protocol to unfold a flag that has been presented in honor of a fallen service member. The flag should never be unfolded. Current practice now has the three casings presented after the American flag is presented to the next-of-kin.