If you're looking for a poem for a military veteran's funeral, thank you for your sacrifice. Whether your loved one died during active duty or not, we appreciate that they stepped up to serve.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Poems for a Veteran and Parent's Funeral
- Uplifting Poems for a Military Veteran's Funeral
- Sad Poems for a Military Veteran's Funeral
Make sure that your military veteran receives the honors and benefits that they are entitled to when planning the funeral. Military funerals are poignant services, and they give those attending the opportunity to reflect on your loved one's contributions to the country and world.
Here are some poems to consider using during your loved one's funeral service. You may also consider printing a poem in your loved one's funeral program. Many of them are about soldiers who died during battle, but some are about military service in general.
Poems for a Veteran and Parent's Funeral
As you plan the memorial service for your mom or dad, you may consider choosing poems or songs that have special meaning to your family. Perhaps the pieces you choose will be about your loved one's veteran status.
Here are some poems to consider for your parent's funeral.
1. "Welcome Home" by T.J. McGarvey
This poem refers to the tumultuous political climate. It says, "Let the historians answer the political questions. Those who served—served. Those who gave all, live in our hearts."
We love that this poem separates the politics that often correspond with the military actions of those who served.
2. "A Tribute to Sacrifice" by T.B. Windross
This poem is about soldiers who suffer and die during battle. The last line reads, "they gave you all that they could give, and by their sacrificial death you live—and they shall live forevermore." Consider placing a military emblem on your loved one's headstone, so future visitors know about your loved one's sacrifice.
3. "What is a Veteran" by Unknown
This poem doesn't rhyme, but it is written in short repetitive statements, which qualifies it as a poem. Search for this opening line: "A veteran is a person who fell in love with their country / for better, for worse / for richer, for poorer / in sickness and in health." Yes, the author compares military service with a faithful marriage, which is an interesting and apt comparison.
4. "A Hero's Welcome" by Robert Longley
This poem begins, "time to come home, dear brother. Your tour of duty is through." Of course, you can change the gender references in this poem if you wish to use it at your mother's funeral.
5. "In Flanders Fields" by Lt. Col. John McCrae
Flanders Fields is the common name that refers to the battlefields of World War I. It refers to areas of Belgium and France, where there was heavy fighting. Even though your loved one was probably not a veteran of World War I, this poem still speaks to the sacrifice that is common of soldiers of every generation.
Uplifting Poems for a Military Veteran's Funeral
Funerals are mostly sad events, but many people feel uplifted during the military funeral flag presentation. At this moment, others are reminded that the deceased made a difference with their life.
Here are some uplifting poems to consider for your loved one's funeral.
6. "The Things That Make a Soldier Great" by Edward Guest
This poem reminds us that some soldiers don't fight for the flag or the country. Instead, they fight to protect their neck of the woods—or their homes. We love the line that reads, "As when behind the cause they see the little place called home. Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run, You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun."
7. "The Battlefield" by Emily Dickinson
You may be surprised to learn that Emily Dickinson wrote about military battlefields, but she did live during the American Civil War. This poem says that even though the endless dead are scattered throughout the battlefield, God can "summon every face."
8. "Heroes Live Forever" by Robert Longley
Do you feel that the word "hero" is overused? This poem describes a hero in this manner: "No one wants to be a hero. The price is far too high."
9. "Bury Me With Soldiers" by Reverend Charles R. Fink
A Vietnam veteran writes this poem, and it has a few political overtones. In it, the person who is facing death says that he wants to be buried with soldiers. He appreciates how, even though they came from different belief systems and experiences, they would all die for each other. He even admits that he didn't like all the soldiers he served with, but the speaker still would rather be buried with them than people who didn't stand for anything during their lives. The following lines are particularly impactful:
I'm sick of the hypocrisy.
Of lectures by the wise
I'll take the man with all his flaws,
ho goes, though scared, and dies.
10. "God Bless America" by Irving Berlin
While most people would be unable to read this poem without thinking of the accompanying tune, the lyrics could be read at a veteran's (or any proud American's) funeral. There's nothing more uplifting than the description of America's beauty: "From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam."
Sad Poems for a Military Veteran's Funeral
You don't always have to put on a brave face at funerals. It's normal to be sad. You may want to reflect on this sadness by choosing a sad funeral poem. While some of the previous examples could undoubtedly be considered sad, here are some others from which to choose.
11. "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon
This song is about a young soldier who lost their life during battle. Funerals of young people are the saddest. If you are looking for a poem that describes that situation, consider this one by Laurence Binyon.
12. "We Remember Them" by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer
We know that this poem isn't about a single soldier, but it still would be appropriate to use at your loved one's funeral. It discusses how the beauty of nature often causes us to remember our loved ones, but this poem is specifically about the soldier's sacrifice. One line reads, "We remember them. When we have decisions that are difficult to make."
13. “Just a Soldier” by Capt. Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan
This poem was written by a soldier who says that he doesn't want to be "a symbol of a cause / I don't want to be a reference for policies or laws." Instead, he merely wants to serve his country the best way he knows how.
14. "Decoration Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Before we had Memorial Day, we had a day set aside to honor the dead by decorating their graves. This was called "decoration day" and is referred to in Longfellow's poem. Longfellow describes the burial mounds as "silent tents of green."
15. "Memorial Day" by Joyce Kilmer
We know that it may feel odd using a poem titled "Memorial Day" at your loved one's funeral. Regardless, any time people gather together to remember a soldier's sacrifice, shouldn't it be called a "memorial" day?
This poem was written by a veteran of World War I. It talks about the reward that the soldier will receive in heaven in this stanza:
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last, the accolade of God.
Other Ways to Honor a Soldier
Besides having a military funeral, there are other ways to honor your loved one who served their country. Consider asking those attending the funeral to contribute to military charities instead of buying flowers or gifts. You may also consider passing out mini American flags after the funeral, so those in attendance can remember your loved one's sacrifice (as well as the sacrifice of other soldiers.)
Outside the funeral, there are other ways you can honor your loved one who served in the military. Instead of looking at Memorial Day as a three-day weekend, you could attend Memorial Day activities and parades organized to honor current and past military members. You could donate your time organizing events or working for a veteran's charity. You may consider decorating soldier's graves on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or Veteran's Day.