Monday, October 10, 2011


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

Recently DRL posted a letter from a veteran who was upset that the wording of the presentation of the flag at his uncle’s military funeral was changed.  (Click here to go to the orginal post) DRL checked with Snopes before posting and it was listed as “Undetermined”.  Since posting, we’ve heard from several people who were concerned that this was a rumor. Since we are committed to voicing the opinions of ALL our readers, I did some research on the post. This is what I found.
Summary of the eRumor: The message describes a first-hand account from a man who attended the funeral of his uncle, a U.S. Army Korean War combat veteran. The writer said that he knew that when the flag was ceremonially folded and presented to the family the presenter would normally say something like "On behalf of the President of the United States" we thank you for the faithful service of your loved one. At this funeral, however, the presenter substituted "President of the United States" with "Secretary of Defense." The writer later asked the presenter about it and was told that there had been a change in the protocol and that "The White House notified all military funeral service detachments to immediately remove 'the President' and insert 'the Secretary of Defense."
The Truth: 
The email is authentic and communicated with the writer, John G. Martich Weirton who said this happened at a Pittsburgh cemetery at the funeral of his uncle, U.S. Army Korean War Veteran Daniel Martich.   A spokesperson for U.S. Army Public Affairs Department told that there has not been any official change in the protocol of presenting the flag to the family of a member of the military who has died.

Wierton said he was standing next to his aunt when the flag was presented to her.  He also told us that he used to be employed in the funeral industry, had experienced past military services and was surprised by the variation from the script that he had heard during previous ceremonial handovers of the flag that draped the coffin.
Like Mr. Wierton, most people who have attended funerals of military personnel are accustomed to hearing a reference to the President during the presentation of the flag but that is because it's become a tradition to do so, not because it is a required part of official protocol.
The actual wording of the presentation of the flag, according to current U.S. Army regulation, is, "Sir/Ma'm, this flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one."
We checked the web site for Military Funeral Honors Commander's Reference for Authorized Provided Partnership Program, which seems to indicate that the protocol has not changed. The site has scripts of "preferred wording" that vary by military branch and all include mention of the President.
In summary, according to “Truth of Fiction” this event did take place, however, it was inaccurate information given to Mr.Wierton by the presenter at his uncle’s funeral.
From “Urban Legends” :
With all due respect to Mr. Martich and the unnamed soldier who allegedly told him so, it's not true. When I called Arlington National Cemetery to verify — and bear in mind, this is a facility that conducts as many as 30 military funeral services a day — I was told by staff members they were unaware of any such revision.
In point of fact, while there are customary wordings for the flag presentation ceremony in each military service, there's no hard-and-fast formula dictated by U.S. law or military regulations. As specified in the Army Field Manual (The Soldier's Guide: The Complete Guide to U.S. Army Traditions, Training, Duties, and Responsibilities, 2007), the recommended wording is this:
This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.
I've found precisely that wording used in the majority of instances quoted in published accounts of Army funerals. Occasionally, the chaplain or presenter will say instead, "On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation," or "On behalf of a grateful nation and the President of the United States," but as far as I can tell mentioning the President in Army funeral services is the exception, not the rule.
According to Snopes:
Claim: Military Funeral Protocal has been changed to remove mention of the President of the United States.
Research in progress.

So, it appears that Mr.Martich’s account of the funeral is true, it was an error on the part of the Army representative who presented the flag to Martich’s aunt that originated this rumor.
This is why I love America! Mr. Martich has the right to voice his opinion, however if his opinion is not based on verifiable facts, other Americans have the right to protest and seek the truth!  Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but we must take care to be sure we base our speech (or writing) on facts that support our opinions. I sincerely thank those who wrote and shared sources to further investigate this issue.I hope that more people will consider contributing opinions and posts to DRL!
Your articles can be sent to .


  1. Nicely said, Marion.

  2. This is what good journalism is all about - the truth. Thank you for presenting both posts. It's good to know what's our there but also good that you followed up to find the truth!

  3. I can understand why the veteran was upset because he did ask someone he thought was an expert. So did the soldier who misinformed him make it up or did someone else pass this infomation to him? I guess we'll never know where this actually originated. You know, it still could be true!

  4. I can't believe you "Still Skeptical"! Arlington Cemetary denied it for goodness sake! The soldier probably just screwed up what he was supposed to say and didn't want to admit it so he made up the "white house" thing to cover his blunder. I seriously doubt it's a right wing conspiracy or a Presidential insult to vets!LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!

  5. I agreee with you...

  6. You certainly went to a lot of sources to get to the root of that incident...appreciate that. I just felt there was more to it,but what really bothered me was that one would assume because of it, Obama was un-American. As I said before, he has his faults, but I sincerely believes he loves this country.Anyway, thanks for delving into it, Marion

  7. Good sleuthing Marion. And again, no one has to like Obama, but let's remember that Military Families are one of Michelle Obama's causes and if it were not for the bills presented by then Senator Obama and Claire McCaskill in 2007, Walter Reed Hospital would have remained a place of deplorable conditions. To somehow imply that the President or the White House disrespects our military is just silly.

  8. What a reative group of readers. Glad ou have a place to banter. Might I point out that no one at Delayed Reaction Lounge implied anything about our President or the White House. They simply shared the letter and thoughts of another - just like their other daily posts. Amazing the talons that can come out when politics is involved.

    Thanks for both posts. Thanks for keeping it interesting and keeping us coming back.

  9. UGH... I need to slow down or get spell check for comments!

    "What a reactive group of readers. Glad you have a place to banter."

  10. To your credit Marion and DRL!

  11. A bigger issue is the mischaracterization of the war in Kosovo. My understanding - and I could be wrong - is that it was primarily a conflict involving ethnic Serbians (who are predominantly Christian) attacking ethnic Albanians (who are primarily Muslim.) NATO and the USA came in to defend the Muslims, not to defend the Christians. Obviously, this is an oversimplification of a complex issue.