History of the Military Markers
According to the Department of Veterans affairs the original grave marker was prior to the establishment of the national cemetery.
The first marker was a wooden board with a rounded top, bearing a registration number or inscriptions.
September 11, 1861 The War
Department issued General Order #75 which made the
commanders responsible for burials and marking graves. At this time the Quartermaster General was directed to provide headboards as well as books for the burial records.
1873 The first design for
stones to be erected in national cemeteries was adopted. A
marble or stone 4” thick, 10” wide and 12” high with the
number of the grave, rank, name, state to be cut into the
stone. This would include the eligible deceased of the
Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Indian
Campaigns and the Spanish-American War.
For unknown markers – 6” square and 30” Long.
February 3, 1879 The furnishing of stones for unmarked graves in private cemeteries.
1902 Design was changed to 39” High, 12” Wide and 4” Thick.
October 21, 1903 The markers for known and unknown were to be the same.
April 28, 1904 Furnishing markers for unmarked graves of civilians buried in national cemeteries.
March 9, 1906 Furnishing of markers for Confederate graves where burial was in federal cemeteries. The design varied with the top pointed. [It is said that the top was pointed to prevent “Yankees” from sitting on the headstones.]
February 26, 1929 Furnishing of markers for Confederate graves in private cemeteries.
May 26, 1930 The inscription of the Confederate Cross of Honor in a small circle on the face of the stone above the standard inscription was authorized.
August 11, 1936 Flat marble marker was adopted
September 13, 1939 Flat granite marker was adopted
July 12, 1940 Flat bronze
marker was adopted [A new design was approved in 1973]
April 1941 Granite Markers – These were discontinued in 1947 because of the cost.
After WWI , A new design, 42” High, 13” Wide and 4” Thick, was adopted for all markers except the Civil War and Spanish American Wars. For the first time a religious emblem was authorized, limited to the Latin Cross – Christian and the Star of David – Jewish.
1944 The addition of the Birth date was authorized.
February 1951 The religious Buddhist emblem was authorized.
September 1951 Korea was authorized for those who served in the Korean Theater June 27, 1950 – July 24, 1954.
December 11, 1964 Vietnam was authorized for those veterans who died in Vietnam or death was related to service in Vietnam.
September 1, 1973 National cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Army was transferred to the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, with the exception of Arlington and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemeteries.
October 31, 1983 Lebanon or Grenada was authorized for those who served in those military actions.
December 12, 1988 MIA & POW Authorized
December 22, 1989 Panama and Persian Gulf was authorized for those who served in those military actions.
December 4, 1992 Somalia was authorized for those who served in those military actions.
January 19, 1994 Reintroduction of upright granite headstone.
December 27, 2001 Furnish marker even is already marked with private marker.
December 6, 2002 Amended to extend this benefit to veterans who died after September 11, 2001
There are 39 emblems of belief,
the Civil War Union Shield and Confederate Southern
Cross of Honor and the Medal of Honor insignias allowed on a government marker.
This information is from the Department of Veterans
Affairs. Full History can be read at
History of the Military Marker
There is also a article in the November 8, 2006 edition of the Ponca City News concerning veterans markers.
Contributed by Mildred Smith