What to Expect at a National Cemetery Funeral

temp-post-image By Emma Castleberry

While there are certain standards of etiquette that apply to all funerals, the funeral process at a national cemetery is slightly different than a traditional cemetery. Knowing what to expect at a funeral or memorial service can make the process more comfortable for everyone involved. If you are going to a ceremony for a deceased veteran at a national cemetery, here is what to expect.

National Cemeteries Don’t Host Funerals

It’s important to be aware that national cemeteries don’t have the facilities to host traditional funeral services or open-casket viewing. Sometimes, families will choose to have a funeral prior to the ceremony at the national cemetery.
The service that is held at a national cemetery is called “final committal service” and it is held at a committal shelter. When you arrive at the national cemetery, there will be an official to direct you to the proper committal shelter (there are often several of these shelters at a national cemetery). The final committal service usually lasts less than half an hour and can include (or not include) military honors.


At most national cemeteries, it is appropriate for the family to provide flowers for the service. These will often travel with the urn or casket from the committal shelter to the gravesite and ultimately be placed on the filled grave. Each national cemetery has an individualized floral policy, so it’s important to confirm that your arrangement is welcome.

You Can Visit the Grave... Later

Funeral attendees are welcome to visit the grave of the veteran after the work day is over, but not immediately after the committal service.

Arlington National Cemetery is Different

Arlington National Cemetery, which honors between 27 and 30 deceased veterans each day, has a slightly different process. Attendees will meet at one of four meeting points in or around the cemetery and should plan to arrive between 30 and 45 minutes before the service because of security procedures.

Arlington National Cemetery often has funeral processions and military honors can be performed at the gravesite, unlike other national cemeteries. During the honors, which are performed after the graveside service, the family will stand but other attendees are free to sit. After honors, an Arlington lady may present a card of condolences. This is the conclusion of the service and attendees will return to their cars.

Contact Us

6051 East Seven Mile Road,
Detroit, MI
(East of Mound Road)

Direct Line: 313-893-1880
Fax: 313-891-1758

Hutchison Funeral Home

6051 East Seven Mile Road,

Detroit, MI 48234

Phone. 313-893-1880

Fax. 313-891-1758