Military vs First Responder Funerals


Forums User
6 years, 3 months ago

Can you please explain the following to me:
Police, Fire, and EMS Funeral Customs: “Casket Watch and Honor Guard Full military-style honors should be available to those heroes who die in the line of duty, starting with a casket watch. The duty of those who have the high honor of casket watch is to stand vigil during the wake or viewing. A team of two takes a 15–30-minute watch (beginning 30 minutes before the viewing and ending 30 minutes after), one at the head and one at the foot of the casket, facing each other. A second team relieves them every 15–30 minutes.”

As a military veteran I have often wondered about this. The military serves the country as a whole and first responders serve their respective communities and states.


Molly Gorny
6 years, 3 months ago

Hi Joe,

Thank you for your question about first-responder versus Veterans funerals. While we can’t say for certain, we believe that the tradition of “military-style” funerals began as a way of thanking police, firefighters, and EMS for putting their lives at risk in a similar way to our Veterans.

First responder funerals are modeled after military funerals, but they aren’t quite the same. In fact, each division has its own traditions, and even certain municipalities do things a little differently. It’s true that some traditions are common to both, but the honors available to Veterans are determined at the Federal level and serve as the model. Traditions in the military vary according to branch, so all military funerals are not the same either. It is not uncommon to find first responders who are also Veterans and these individuals would be entitled to the traditions of both groups.

We hope that this helps explain it. We appreciate your question and we definitely thank you for your service!

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