A Burial at
Lt. Col. Judge James F.
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pall bearers have loaded the caisson and walk beside it, pulled by
seven horses and 3 riders.
The horses on the right are saddled, but have no rider.
This is not a "riderless horse," which would walk alone behind the
Instead, it harks back to the days of horse-drawn artillery pieces,
when the caisson carried the gun, and some horses were taken without
in order to carry a greater weight of supplies.
Arlington National Cemetery "Admin Building" serves as a funeral home
with "family rooms." Mourners assemble, then drive in
behind the hearse to a large shady cemetery location with room for a
band and honor guard of riflemen, where pall bearers can transfer the
coffin to a waiting caisson with its team of horses and drivers.
Band plays before casket is loaded onto horse-drawn caisson.
Honor Guard stands at attention while casket is loaded onto
The end of the caisson's journey -- eight pall bearers carry
the coffin to its grave.
and Honor Guard march with us behind the pall bearers to the graveside.
Following music at graveside, there is a brief service.
service ends with a slow, solo bugle playing taps.
coffin was not lowered into its grave as part of the ceremony.
(right) Acting quickly in response to the leader's
snap of the flag, the pall bearers fold the coffin-draping flag in half
the long way twice, then fold it up in repeated triangles.
alas familiar triangularly-folded flag to which each United States
veteran is entitled is then passed to the widow. The folding
done wearing white gloves, was perfect.
their leader's command, seven (or eight?) riflemen from the
18-rifleman honor guard fire their weapons three times.
The silence into which taps descended is shattered.
The burial is over.
at the rank of Lt. Col.
assemble in a designated family room at the Arlington National Cemetery
Administration Building, then return to their cars to follow the hearse
to its rendezvous with a horse-drawn caisson at a designated "transfer
point" within the Cemetery.
1. Eight pall bearers transfer coffin from hearse
to caisson drawn by 7 horses and 3 riders.
A symbolic "riderless horse" is one that
behind the caisson. We did not have this.
"caparisoned horse" is used for full colonels and above.
2. A full band plays at the loading of the caisson
and then follows it to the grave site and plays again.
3. Eighteen riflemen move with the band from
transfer point to grave site.
4. A three-man honor guard carry the infantry unit's colors.
the graveside service, a member of the band plays taps, and 7 (or 8?)
members of the riflemen, at command of their leader, fire 7 rounds
simultaneously three times in a row. A rifle is not a "gun",
these three volleys are not
21 "gun" salute, which is used more to greet dignitaries or
important days at noon or dusk than to embellish funerals.
shells were blanks without bullets. The flag detail (in our
the 8 pall bearers) often slips three shell-casings into the folded
flag before presenting the flag to the family. Each casing represents
one volley. The Tierney family received some of the
but I do not know if it was through this traditional route to
Jim's children that we came to have one to keep always and
pass on to our son.
J. I. Nelson, Ph.D.
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Officer's quarters like this Victorian home and about 25 others were
built between about 1890 and the 1930s.
Today, it takes a rank of Brigadier General or higher to get a house on
Our reception was held in the Officer's Club at the head of General's
this burial page
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rev 3Aug09, 17Aug