Senate Chamber Memorial Services and Funerals
The Senate has recognized the death of incumbent members in many ways over the years. Procedures for memorializing departed senators were established as early as 1809, and many of the early traditions remain.
Today when a sitting member passes away, the senators vacant Chamber desk is draped in black crepe and adorned with flowers. The Senate adjourns the days session in memory of the late senator, and Capitol flags are flown at half-staff. A group of senators, typically the leaders of both parties, attend the funeral and memorial services in the late senator’s home state. For the next few weeks, senators deliver eulogies on the Senate floor, which are published in the Congressional Record, and the Senate chaplain recognizes the departed in an opening prayer.
Some traditions have fallen into disuse. For example, in earlier times, a senators death was usually marked by a funeral or memorial service held in the Senate Chamber and for the next 30 days all members wore black armbands to honor the deceased. The last funeral service in the Chamber was for Senator William Langer (R-ND) in 1959.