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Arlington National Cemetery to Treat Marble Headstones in Section 33

6/10/2019

ARLINGTON, VA – This weekend the cemetery applied a solution to approximately 9,700 headstones in Section 33 of Arlington National Cemetery. The purpose of the treatment is to impede the growth of dark microorganisms on the marble.

The cemetery has used this application intermittently throughout the cemetery’s 624 acres; however, this is the first application of a large numbers of headstones in one section at the same time.

During this process, the treatment may discolor headstones for a period of three to five days and a minimal area of surrounding grass may become brown for up to two weeks after application. The marble surface of the headstones will become lighter in color over time as the biofilm loses its dark colored micro-organisms.

“We are committed to the continuous care and maintenance of the headstones and niche covers of all those laid to rest within these hallowed grounds. Our goal is always to ensure our marble is in its cleanest most natural state,” said Chief of Interment Operations for Arlington National Cemetery Joseph Alberti.   

An advantage of using this treatment over power washing is it reduces erosion of the marble, thus increasing the lifespan of the historic headstones and lowering overall maintenance costs.

The cemetery will determine whether other sections will be treated in this same manner once this process is complete.  Family members visiting a loved one in Section 33 will be able to access this area during the cleaning.

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