It was after 9/11, when there was a surge in patriotism that Woodlawn’s volunteers took on the responsibility of placing flags on the graves of those who served our country. We began with a list of 200 names, and with the assistance of the local American Legion Post we added to the list. Then we sent our eager researchers out with clipboards to write down the names of those memorialized with a military marker.
In 1862, the U.S. government established the National Cemetery System; providing graves and headstones for those lost in the American Civil War. Initially there were discussions over whether to use iron or marble markers. By 1873, a basic design was adopted by Secretary of War, William W. Belknap. Marble slabs were to be 12 inches above the ground, 10 inches wide, and four inches thick. Public concerns about the marking of Veteran’s graves in private cemeteries were addressed and in 1879 Congress authorized the furnishing of stones for the unmarked graves of Veterans of the Union Army.
Many of those who fought in WWI were buried overseas, and at the request of the Gold Star Mothers, thousands were returned home years after the war. The influx of Veterans inspired the design of a new marker in 1922 to be placed on the graves of recent Veterans. Those who served in the Civil and Spanish American Wars would be remembered with the traditional inset shield.
Today’s Veterans markers are made of granite, bronze, and marble. They are traditional upright monuments, or rectangles that are flush to the ground. At Woodlawn, many of the Veterans graves are marked with family monuments, personalized to recognize service. Our volunteers have recorded this information as well as researched data bases, service rosters, and other sources to create a list of over 8500 service men and women in Woodlawn’s care. We are grateful for those who served and for the volunteers honored these souls by placing flags for Memorial Day.