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What To Expect at a Chapel Service at Arlington

During a period of mourning, many turn to their religion to find a sense of closure and comfort as they come to terms with the loss of a loved one. As such, the Arlington National Cemetery chapel allows families to request a chapel service for their loved ones. If you’re attending an Arlington service that includes a chapel service, let us tell you what to expect at a chapel service at Arlington to ensure you’re able to attend and observe respectfully.

Entering the Chapel

It’s generally recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the service, as this gives you a chance to speak with the Cemetery Representative and the family, during which time you can express your condolences and get any necessary instructions before the service begins. When the service time begins to approach, stay near the officer in charge and follow their lead in saluting as the remains of the deceased are transported from the hearse into the chapel. Though the officer will be saluting, you will instead place your right hand over your heart, as this is the customary way to pay your respects as a civilian. You’ll continue to follow the example of the officer in charge to know when to stop saluting and enter the chapel.

In the Chapel

Once you’re inside the chapel, the faith of the departed and their family will dictate proper conduct. These services, unless otherwise stated, are typically 20 minutes long in consideration of other services scheduled for that day. When the service comes to a close, walk to the center of the aisle and move to the rear of the casket or urn. The ushers will come forth, and the organist will begin to play.

Leaving the Chapel

As you prepare to exit the chapel, turn to the rear and follow the processional out of the chapel. If religious practices had you don vestments, you will have the opportunity to change before leaving the chapel. Once you exit the chapel, go to the left and stand near the caisson while placing your right hand over your heart. The remains shall be moved and secured to the caisson.

Now that you know what to expect at a chapel service at Arlington, you will be able to focus on tending to your grief and mourning rather than worrying that you’re doing the right thing while you’re in the chapel.