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Military Memorial Service

"In Memory of Our Beloved Brother, Darryl Maurice Hunter"

Let me start by saying this blog has been in the making for almost three months. Whenever I start typing, I get flooded with emotions and use that as an excuse to put it off. Well, finally after enough procrastinating on my end I'm ready. With a good margarita in hand, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth playing in the background I share with you a few of my favorite images from the Memorial Service Celebrating the life of an Officer and a Gentleman, Lieutenant Commander Darryl Maurice Hunter.

The first time I was asked to photograph a military memorial ceremony, I was honored, but also terrified. It had nothing to do with not having experience in this genre of photography, and everything to do with the person's funeral and memorial ceremony that I would be documenting. My first thought was, "how can I keep the camera steady, while trying to hold back my own tears." After a quick pep talk to myself, I knew I could do it. I had a job to do and I know Darryl wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

What Happens During a Military Funeral?

Military funerals are formal affairs that consist of several distinct sections. Depending on the request of the family the funeral may have an honor guard, rifle detail, a playing of"Taps", or all of these.

When you arrive, you may see Sailors standing at attention awaiting the hearse. Once the hearse arrives, they'll remove the casket and carry it to the site for the ceremony.

Family and friends will gather under the tent to say their final goodbye. The family will take their seats and the last portion of the service will begin.

Presentation of the burial flag

As with all U.S. military funerals, Navy funeral honors involve two or more uniformed members of the military folding a burial flag and presenting it to the deceased's loved ones. Only those with proper training fold the flag.

According to the American Legion, the individual folds of the flag symbolize the following:

The first fold symbolizes mortal life.

The next fold is a symbol of belief in eternal life after death.

The third fold specifically honors the sacrifices the deceased veteran made as a member of the military.

The fourth fold serves as an acknowledgement that humans have inherent weaknesses and must turn to a higher power for guidance at all times.

The fifth fold honors the United States.

The sixth fold symbolizes the hearts with which Americans pledge allegiance to the flag.

The seventh fold honors the armed forces in general.

The eighth fold recognizes all those who have passed.

The ninth fold is a tribute to women, womanhood in general, and their contributions to the nation.

The tenth fold is for fathers who have given their children to the armed forces to serve the country.

The eleventh fold symbolizing the lower area of the seal of the King of David and King of Solomon. This is meant to acknowledge citizens who practice Judaism.

The twelfth fold recognizes Christians by glorifying the holy trinity.

The final fold leaves the stars upright as a reminder of the national motto, "In God We Trust".

The flag folding ceremony may have roots in religious values but that doesn’t mean a veteran needs to have been Christian or Jewish to receive funeral honors. Today, many people simply regard the flag folding tradition as a general symbol of respect for the veteran who died. In other literature the method of folding the flag represent the original 13 colonies.

When presenting the flag to the deceased's next of kin, the presenter says, " On behalf of a grateful nation and a proud Navy, I present this flag to you in recognition of your (relationship)'s years of honorable and faithful service to his /her country," or something very similar to that.

Playing of taps and gun salute

The tradition of playing the bugle call taps at military funerals dates back to the Civil War.

Usually followed by a 3 volley salute

Thanks for visiting. If you are looking for a military service photographer for your next National Archives Ceremony, Military Retirement, or Military Promotion, I would be honored to photograph your momentous occasion. Now serving the Greater Washington DC area including Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.


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