There are a number of traditional gun salutes that are offered in respect to fallen service members - and the most commonly known is probably the 21-gun Salute. As you prepare to bury a family member who served in the military, you might wonder: Is he or she eligible for this great honor?
While not every military service member qualifies for the 21-gun Salute, there are a number of ways to earn it. Due to some recent changes to military procedures,the 21-gun Salute is an option for:
1. Enlisted officers
2. Active duty service members
3. Anyone who had an honorable retirement from the military
If your loved one met any one of these criteria, you can speak with your funeral director about coordinating a 21-gun Salute. (You can also ask about some of the other types of interesting salutes that are available; though less well-known, they can also be meaningful ways to honor the deceased.)
One thing to be aware of is that, while this gun salute references 21 guns, the actual number of shots fired can vary. This has to do with various factors - rank, branch of service, and beyond. As such, it’s important to be aware: Your loved one’s 21-gun Salute may not actually have 21 distinct shots you can hear!
Nevertheless, it’s a significant honor; at many military funeral services, it’s the gun salute that provides one of the greatest moments of emotion and release. Again, there are many service members for whom this honor is available, and the best way to coordinate it is to meet with your funeral director and make your wishes known.