Government Headstone/Niche Cover
The government will provide at no cost to the estate of the deceased an upright, white marble headstone or white niche cover. The cemetery staff at Arlington will place the order, which goes to the National Cemetery Administration, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The order for the headstone or niche cover will include the appropriate inscription and choice of emblem of belief.
Headstones, provided by the government, are ordered after the day of interment. The next-of-kin will review the proposed stone text prior to the date of interment and then agree and finalize the order on the day of the interment at the chapel or administrative building at Arlington National Cemetery.
An online Headstone and Niche Cover Design tool is available to assist in this process. It will assist in entering standard inscription information including name, branch of service, war service(s), awards, date of birth/death, a term of endearment if desired and an optional religious symbol.
Upright marble stones (13x24x4) generally contain eleven lines of text with or without an emblem of belief. Headstones are ordered from the Veteran’s Administration and follow standard guidelines. Generally, the stone can accommodate 13 characters and spaces per name line, 15 characters and spaces on all others. A veteran’s government headstone must contain name, rank, date of birth and date of death. Other lines can include combat service and significant awards. An additional inscription can be used to show a term of endearment or reference (e.g. Loving Father, Husband and Son, Fought for Freedom, Proud Soldier, etc.).
Niche granite or marble covers (15 ¾ x 11 ¼ x ¼) generally contain 11 lines including a religious emblem and have 11 characters on the name line, 13 on all others except the 11th line which only contains 10 characters or spaces.
While the next-of-kin does not order the government headstone/niche cover for placement in Arlington National Cemetery, he or she can check on the status of the order by calling, toll-free (877) 907-8585, between 7:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time.
Private Headstone Markers
Certain sections of the cemetery have been specified as sections where private headstone markers can be placed. Private headstone markers placed in the cemetery are subject to approval prior to installation. In accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (32 CFR Part 553.21), the marker will be of simple design, dignified, and appropriate to a military cemetery. Additionally, the Department of the Army is not liable for the maintenance of or damage to private markers.
- The erection of headstone markers at private expense to mark graves in lieu of government headstones and markers is permitted only in sections of Arlington National Cemetery in which private headstone markers were authorized as of 1 January 1947. These markers will be of simple design, dignified, and appropriate to a military cemetery. The name of the person(s) or the name of an organization, fraternity, or society responsible for the purchase and erection of the marker will not be permitted on the marker or anywhere else in the cemetery. More specific and detailed information can be provided upon request.
- Except as may be authorized for marking group burials, ledger markers of freestanding cross design, narrow shafts, mausoleums, or over-ground vaults are prohibited