Veteran Memorial Types

Gravestones or grave markers (collectively called 'memorials' in this discussion) of various types are provided by the Federal Government to each deceased military veteran who was not separated from service due to a dishonorable discharge.  Each memorial must be requested by a relative after the death of the veteran because they are not provided in advance of the veteran's death.

For stone memorials, there is a choice of marble or granite.  Marble is more affected by environmental factors, such as acid rain and biological growths, but some folks prefer marble's appearance.

Bronze memorials are more like plaques and are not suitable to stand on their own.  For that reason they are typically laid flat on a concrete or stone base, or they can be mounted on walls for those who are interred in a crypt or columbarium niche. Below are pictures of various monuments provided by the Federal Government to honor deceased military veterans.

    The most common monument is the standard headstone, made of marble or granite. The design seen here is typical, and has been used with little variation from the beginning of our nation.  This style of memorial is sometimes called a 'tablet.'
The religeous symbol at the top is specified on the headstone request.  The text on the stone varies by situation and is also specified on the headstone request.
Whether marble or granite, the stone stands in honor - outdoors - 24/7/365 - in all weather - and it can become dirty and/or stained and/or show growth of biological material over time.  This is especially true in public and private cemeteries where they may not have a cleaning regimen for the gravestones.  For this reason, we need volunteers to step up and take on the task to clean these memorials as needed and keep them in pristine condition as they would be in a national cemetery.

    Some cemeteries prohibit above-ground memorials, so plain stone cubes can be ordered which are intended to lay flat at ground level.  the size of these stones is 24" by 12".  The engraved information is similar to, but necessarily less than that which is on a vertical monument.
Based on cemetery convention, these stones can be placed at the head end of the grave and are also called headstones.  Alternately, they can be placed at the foot end of the grave and are called footstones.
In addition to cleaning in-ground horizontal memorials, they often need sod and dirt removed from them in order to have their appearance be correct, but don't use power tools (trimmers & edgers) as you would edge your driveway, for example.  Power tools can damage the stone, so this work must be done carefully, by hand.

A common problem for stone memorials (both vertical and horizontal) is sinking into the ground.  They are heavy and often placed on soil which has not yet fully settled after the interment of the deceased, so they sink into the ground as the ground settles.  The vertical headstones often end up leaning away from 'plumb,' and the horizontal stones go off-level.  The scope of work associated with 'clean by Memorial Day' does not include resetting of the memorial, but if that is a task you are willing to accomplish, there are many YouTube videos to educate you and guide you in that work.

    For horizontal in-ground memorials, the deceased veteran's family can order a bronze plaque (also called a bronze marker).  These need to be mounted on a stone or concrete base such that the base is larger and provides a border of concrete or stone between the bronze memorial and the sod or dirt.  As with the headstones and footstones, sod and grass and dirt will make their way onto these memorials over time, and must be cleared away carefully with hand tools, being careful to not damage the plaque or its base.

    Also made of bronze, but much smaller in size, is the Cremation Niche Plaque.  Typically, you will find these mounted vertically on the stone which is the front panel of the niche for holding the urn of cremated remains. 

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