Government Headstone/Niche Cover


The government will provide at no cost to the estate of the deceased an upright, white marble headstone or white marble niche cover. The cemetery staff at Arlington will place the order, which goes to the National Cemetery Administration (part of the Department of Veterans Affairs). The order for the headstone or niche cover will include the appropriate inscription and choice of an optional emblem of belief.

The next of kin will review the proposed headstone or niche cover text template prior to the date of interment and the template will be finalized with the cemetery prior to or on the day of the interment.

Upright white marble headstones (13x24x4) generally contain 11 lines of text with or without an optional emblem of belief. Generally, the stone can accommodate 13 characters (including spaces) on the name line, and 15 characters (including spaces) on all other lines. A veteran's government headstone must contain name, rank, branch of service, date of birth and date of death. Other lines can include combat service and significant awards. An additional inscription, not to exceed three lines, can be used to show a term of endearment or reference (e.g. Loving Father, Husband and Son; Fought for Freedom; Proud Soldier, etc.).

White marble niche covers (15¾ x 11¼ x ¼) generally contain 11 lines of text with or without  an optional emblem of belief. Generally, the niche cover can accommodate 11 characters (including spaces) on the name line, and 13 characters (including spaces) on all lines others except the 11th line which only contains 9 characters (including spaces). An additional inscription, not to exceed two lines (and shown at the bottom of the niche cover, under all decedents), can be used to show a term of endearment or reference (e.g. Loving Father, Husband and Son; Fought for Freedom; Proud Soldier, etc.).

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 1-877-907-8585. Headstone/niche cover photos are loaded in Arlington's app, ANC Explorer, approximately 90 days from when a service is conducted.