We’re all familiar with the traditional honors associated with an American military funeral. The folded flag, the gun salutes, and Taps played over a lone bugle are all part of the honors our veterans receive (read about the history of these military funeral traditions here).
But what do these traditions look like in other parts of the world? And how are they different from ours? In honor of Military Appreciation Month, let’s explore some of the different military funeral traditions across the globe.
The funeral customs in the United Kingdom share a lot of similarities with our own. But a UK military funeral does have some distinct differences. For example, the ceremonial soldiers during the procession carry their ceremonial rifles in reverse. The soldiers bow their heads and point their rifle at the ground. A bugler then plays the military song, The Last Post.
German military funerals use the song Ich Hatt’ Einen Kameraden. It translates to I Had a Comrade. Another country that uses this song in their military funerals is Chile. Because of the heavy Prussian influence on the country, the Chilean Army plays a Spanish version of the same song at their military funerals.
The Spanish Military has two ceremonial songs. The first, La Muerte No Es El Fina (Death is Not the End) is played in all Spanish military funerals. It’s a traditional Christian hymn composed by a Spanish priest. The second is special to the Spanish Legion. It’s called Novio de la Muerte (Bridegroom of Death). You can listen to both below.
Italian soldiers who die in the line of duty receive a full state funeral and the traditions along with it. That includes:
- The honor guard placed at entrances and exits to the ceremony.
- 6 officers in high uniform carry the coffin.
- The presence of government officials.
- Declaration of public mourning.
- Any other honors arranged by the Prime Minister.
The Italian equivalent of Taps is Il Silenzio (the Silence). It contains only a few spoken lines, which are:
“Good night, love
I’ll see you in my dreams
Good night to you who are far away.”
France’s Armed Forces — inspired by both the Last Post and Taps — use their own ceremonial song called La Sonnerie aux Morts.
Indonesian military funerals are somewhat different than our own. For example, there is no music at the ceremony and procession, although there might be some music later at the final hours. The head of the procession includes a photograph of the deceased. Soldiers then follow behind with large bouquets of flowers. The followers of whichever faith the deceased belonged to lead the final prayer service.