Grave restoration projects leads to Korean Ancestral Rite ceremony on base

Base Info
The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron recently renovated traditiona Korean gravesites on base. (Courtesy Photo)
The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron recently renovated traditiona Korean gravesites on base. (Courtesy Photo)

Grave restoration projects leads to Korean Ancestral Rite ceremony on base

by: 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs | .
Osan Air Base | .
published: July 23, 2014

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Section completed a gravesite renovation earlier this month, they observed a traditional Korean ancestral rites ceremony afterward. The purpose of the ancestral rite ceremony is to pay tribute to the deceased. These ceremonies have a foundation in Confucianism, the dominant religion of Korea during the Joseon dynasty, but are today traditionally practiced by people of the Buddhist and Christian faiths.

The ancestral rite performed on base followed eight steps:

1. Food is prepared. For this ceremony basic fruits like jujube, chestnut and persimmon were used.

2. A letter of identity of the deceased is placed on the back of the food table.

3. Accomplishments of the deceased are read aloud, seeking hope and blessings for their descendants.

4. A glass of tea is presented before the grave of the deceased.

5. The presenter bows twice after presenting the tea.

6. An additional three glasses of tea are then presented to the dead.

7. Any additional presentations of tea are made, if more individuals wish to present to the deceased.

8. Once the ceremony is completed, the letter of identity is burned.

The ancestral rites ceremony at the gravesites of deceased is culturally separate from American traditions of memorializing the deceased, and observing these rites when completing restoration projects is one of the unique duties service members learn about and observe while stationed overseas.

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