We aim to please! Call us at (800) 611-1340

Headstones to Honor Veterans

History of Veteran Headstones

Montgomery C. Meigs was a quartermaster general of the Union Army who choreographed and directed the supply lines that fed, clothed and armed the largest army in the world for the duration of one of the bloodiest conflicts in American History. Montgomery C. Meigs had an intimate and personal understanding of the nation deep in mourning from the war as he mourned the loss of his eldest son, Lt. John R. Meigs, who passed while on a scouting mission near Kernstown, Virginia. Meigs never fully recovered from the loss of his son, but he found solace in laying his son to rest in the newly established national cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. 

Meigs directed a program that laid to rest hundreds of thousands of fallen soldiers—scattered on former battlefields throughout the South, becoming the genesis of our national cemetery system. 

At the time, many of the markers for fallen soldiers were wooden crosses. It wasn't until March 3rd, 1867, that Congress passed an act to "establish and protect national cemeteries," a section called on the secretary of war to "cause each grave to be marked with a small headstone or block," that wooden markers were replaced with marble or granite and marked with the names of the decedents. 

In 1873, two pieces of legislation amplified the military headstone program beyond its original scope; first, all honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, or marines who had served during the late war in regular or volunteer forces, dying after the passage of the act, may be buried in any national cemetery of the United States free of cost, and their graves will receive the same attention and care as those already buried. In 1879, an act authorizing the Secretary of War to erect headstones over the graves of Union Soldiers who have been interred in private, village, or city cemeteries was added to the program, later revised to include all military veterans. 

Veterans Affairs

Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs carries on Meigs's legacy by continuing to provide burial benefits, including a gravesite in any of the VA's national cemeteries with available space, opening, and closing of the grave, perpetual care, providing a government headstone, marker, or medallion, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate at no cost to the family.

You can request any of the below-listed headstones or markers and the material you'd like by selecting your choice within block 15 within the Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker in VA Form 40-1330. 

Should you be a veteran or family member of one and are considering having a government provided Veteran headstone to honor your military service, here is what the U.S. Veteran's Affairs offers: 

  • Upright granite or marble. The vertical granite or marble headstones average 42 inches long, 13 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Depending on the stone, such as marble, there may be variations in color with light to moderate veining.

  • Flat markers. Flat grave markers can be either granite, bronze, or marble, roughly 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Flat bronze gravemarkers have anchor bolts, nuts, and washers to fasten to a base. 

  • Bronze Niche Marker. The bronze niche marker is roughly 8 and ½ inches long, 5 and ½ inches wide, with a 7/16 inch rise, with mounting bolts and washers furnished with the marker. 

  • Historic headstones and markers: two unique styles of upright headstones are available for those who served in Union Forces during the Civil War and those who served in the Spanish-American War. Another style of the headstone is available for those who served with the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, but these unique headstones require detailed documentation to support eligibility, and inscriptions for these special headstones are intentionally limited to assure historical accuracy. 

What Goes On the Headstone

If you choose to have your loved one's headstone created with the VA, all headstones and markers must include the following information: 

  • The deceased's legal name
  • The Veteran service branch
  • The beginning and ending years of the person's life
  • The section and grave number, if the headstone will be placed in a state or national cemetery

Who provides this information must be either the person's next of kin or an authorized representative, like a funeral home director. 

You may also choose to add to the gravestone:

  • The entire beginning and ending dates of life
  • The highest-rank Veteran attained
  • The Veteran's awards and war service
  • An emblem of religious beliefs

Under certain circumstances, the VA may also accept other requests for the headstone: 

  • Nicknames
  • Terms of endearment, such as "loving Father," for example
  • Special Unit Identification

Why Choose A Custom Granite Headstone Instead?

While the VA program is meant to help families of soldiers, there are limitations on what can be placed and customized with a government-provided headstone. Many Veterans and Veteran families seek a headstone as unique as the person they are meant to memorialize while also honoring their military service—and quickly can be done with a custom granite or bronze grave marker from Legacy Headstones.

We have a well-stocked inventory of the finest American-sourced granite and bronze and one of the most accessible and easy-to-use customization tools available for use on each of our memorial product pages. You can easily choose granite colors like black, red, pink, or blue, grass-level headstones, companion headstones, or uniquely shaped memorials such as a butterfly, angels, teardrops, pillow headstones, traditional upright, etc. 

Additionally, since we use only the world's most advanced laser technology and highly trained technicians, our engraving is built to last for generations while providing exquisite details such as photographs, moving imagery, and beautiful symbols to every headstone.

At Legacy, for over 100 years, we've committed ourselves to providing affordable and exceptional monuments to remember the outstanding people in our lives. To create a one-of-a-kind memorial for you or to commemorate a veteran's military service, we are proud and humbled to be here to help.