Figure 4-2.Correct method of displaying the flag with the casket.
casket; however, nothing is ever to be placed
atop a casket which is covered with the ensign of
the United States. Our national ensign combines
blue to symbolize vigilance, justice, and per-
severance; white to symbolize purity; and red to
symbolize hardiness and valor. Use of the flag
signifies patriotism and the spirit of the
The sword is a symbol of authority. At a
naval funeral, the deceased officers sword
may be leaned against the casket and/or may be
placed in the casket at burial. The sword of
John Paul Jones, the Father of the American
Navy, rests near his marble sarcophagus (figure
4-3) in the crypt of the Naval Academy Chapel.
The sword should NOT be unsheathed in a
naval chapel. At a military wedding ceremony
for a naval officer, it is customary for the ushers
in uniform to form an arch of swords outside
the doors of the chapel under which the newly
wedded couple passes.
Three volleys are fired into the air at a naval
funeral as an act of respect for the deceased
member and the naval uniform.
Taps, the last post, is sounded as a sig-
nal that the service of the deceased member has
ended and that the time for rest has begun.
The reversed arms are an acknowledgement
that war is a sign of human failure to maintain
The reversal of rank is an acknowledgement
that at death all persons are equal. This form of
the last shall be first, and the first shall be last
is carried out in the recessional and processional
in the placement of the honorary pallbearers.
The personal salute is a tradition that was
carried over from the British Royal Navy.
The salute is the first part of the movement
of uncovering (figure 4-4) which was the
order promulgated by Admiral, the Earl of St.
Vincent, which stated that all officers were to
take off their hats when receiving orders. In the
early American Navy, one might touch and hold
a lock of hair in the absence of a cover. Today,
the salute is a significant military gesture of
respect within the naval service. This gesture of
respect is rendered in deference to the naval
uniform and to the flag. The national ensign,
placed over the body of a deceased member
of the naval service, is rendered a salute
on the occasions listed in Naval Funerals,
NAVPERS 15956B, and Navy Military Funer-
als, NAVPERS 15555.
These elements of naval customs and tradi-
tions have been presented to add flavor and