Military Veteran Headstone Care

In September, 2022, I stumbled across a video on YouTube by someone named Trae Zipperer, and in it he decried the deplorable condition of the headstones for many US Military veterans in private cemeteries, and challenged the viewers to follow his vision to 'clean them all by Memorial Day.'

Well, I think that video was made in 2020, so the time for that Memorial Day has come and gone, but the message rings true for every year, and I was hooked. Being a veteran myself, I have come to realize it is being unfaithful to those who have served and died if we have the ability to keep their headstones clean and cared for, but choose not to. I started watching more of Trae's videos, and similar videos by other people, and am resolved to step up and participate.

By watching these videos, I have learned there is a right way to clean headstones, and there are wrong ways, but if we follow the protocol published by the National Cemetery Association, we can't go wrong. That, then is the inspiration for this website: Sharing Trae's vision and providing useful information for what to do and how to do it. I hope it will reach a lot of people who will also step up and participate in this patriotic endeavor.

This paragraph exceeds the scope of 'By Memorial Day,' but I think it would also be appropriate to care for other headstones if your time and budget allow.  For example, if the headstone of a veteran's spouse is also in need of cleaning, consider cleaning it, too - especially if it was also provided by the Federal Government.

Since the tools and supplies you need to use cost money, and this will be a self-funded activity, you need to consider how much time and money you are willing to donate to this work. Once you set your budget, you can develop the scope of how much you can do, but always remember, Trae's vision of 'by Memorial' focuses on Military Veteran headstones.

On the left side of this page are links to other pages of focused information. There are two overriding rules for this work.

  1. The first is very similar to first-responders: Do no harm. By following the protocol of the National Cemetery Association, and exercising good care in what you do and how you do it, you can be effective in this initiative without causing any harm.
  2. The second rule is Always get permission to do the work. This can be the cemetary owner or manager, or lead caretaker; Basically, the person in charge of the day-to-day activities. Practice ahead of time what you will say when asking for permission to work on the headstones. If you appear professional and knowledgable, and can clearly articulate your mission, permission is more likely to be granted.

Also, as you get into this work, you will find headstones that are damaged or not positioned properly (typically, that problem will be sinking into the ground and/or leaning), and other people have videos on YouTube to address resetting the headstone to vertical, and even repairing a broken headstone. That work exceeds the scope of the 'By Memorial Day' initiative, and probably the ability of many people, but if you feel led to address those issues that is also a worthwhile task to complete. The pages I have for VIDEO RESOURCES have links to very helpful videos to introduce you to the problems, and demonstrate techniques to address the solutions.  However, remember to always get permission before doing any of this work.

If you do, in fact, decide to participate, welcome to the team!  For most volunteers, the work is solitary (unless the volunteer can recruit others to help), but even solitary service will be rewarding when you see the results of your labors.

This page was developed by Herb Klug       Updated September 8, 2022       Contact me at