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Maintaining White Marble Headstones

Freeman Squires, Brest, France

Norman Dubois, Cuperly, France

US government headstones are found in local cemeteries throughout Europe for several reasons:

  • After WWI or WWII, the next of kin of the War Dead elected to leave the body in place and to assume full maintenance responsibility for the gravesite.
  • After WWI or WWII, the next of kin elected to repatriate the War Dead to their home, in this case an overseas location, and agreed to assume full maintenance responsibility for the gravesite.
  • A former member of the US Armed Forces died overseas and was buried overseas by his family, the death being completely unrelated to either war.

In many cases, the families have long ago forgotten about these gravesites and no longer maintain them. We encourage local volunteers and agencies to help maintain these gravesites. 

US Government Headstone Policy
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. For all deaths occurring before September 11, 2001, the VA may provide a headstone or marker only for graves that are not marked with a private headstone.

Arrangements for setting a Government-furnished headstone or marker in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all placement costs are at private expense. Headstones and markers previously furnished by the Government may be replaced at Government expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized. If a Government headstone or marker in a private cemetery is damaged by cemetery personnel, the cemetery should pay all replacement costs.

The Care and Maintenance of Marble Headstones

White marble headstones should be cleaned frequently. If not promptly removed, bird droppings or other stains can leave permanent marks. Clean headstones with a sponge, pumice, bristle fiber or nylon brush and clean water. Never use high pressure to clean marble headstones. You may use sprayed water, but not pressurized. Never use soap, cleaning solutions, bleach or other chemicals on the headstones. Do not paint or otherwise coat the headstones.

If you know of a US government headstone overseas (not in an American cemetery) that needs replacing, please contact us for help!