National Cemetery Administration Launches Project to Index Monuments
Steve Paul Johnson, July 13, 2002
The National Cemetery Administration
(NCA), a division of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs,
has launched a project to index all of the monuments located within
the 153 national cemeteries under its management. The NCA is partnering
Outdoor Sculpture! (SOS), a branch of Heritage Preservation
Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving America's
The monuments targeted for indexing are the plaques and sculptures
erected in honor of America's heroes. This project does not include
Throughout the Spring of 2002, the NCA recruited nearly sixty volunteers
to visit national cemeteries, and compile information from all of
the monuments. SOS will coordinate the efforts of the volunteers.
The information volunteers are compiling includes all the physical
and historical information that can be determined, including: location
in cemetery, dimensions, setting, material(s), structural condition,
environmental threats, donor, inscription information (including
names of persons), date(s) erected/dedicated, cultural association,
associated conflict, artist/sculptor, builder/founder, and any historical
information the volunteer can locate in libraries and repositories.
Photographs will be taken of each monument, as well.
In 1999, Congress passed legislation (Public Law 106-117, Section
613) requiring the NCA to conduct a study to examine the finest
cemeteries across the United States and the world, and make improvements
to ensure that America's national cemeteries are the finest in the
world. This study is known as "The National Shrine Commitment".
Congress sought to ensure that each national cemetery be maintained
as a national shrine, defining it as:
"...a place of honor and memory that declares to the visitor
or family member who views it that within its majestic setting
each and every veteran may find a sense of serenity, of historic
sacrifice and nobility of purpose. Each visitor should depart
feeling that the grounds, the gravesites and the environs of the
national cemetery are a beautiful and awe-inspiring tribute to
those who gave much to preserve our nation's freedom and way of
To carry out this directive, the NCA launched this project to examine
the current state of the cemeteries under its management, particularly
the monuments, so that it can determine what improvements can be
made, as well as what new monuments it can erect where to erect
them, what materials to use, and which artists to hire.
After the NCA completes its study of the monuments, the information
compiled from the project will be placed into a computer database
that will be available to the public via the Internet through the
Smithsonian American Art Museum.
People will be able to search the database for monuments and inscription
A total of $3,500.00 has been appropriated from tax dollars to
cover some of the costs of this project, including the costs of
mailing information to the NCA, purchasing film, and the production
of CD-ROMs containing photographs of the monuments. Volunteers are
expected to pay for their own transportation and for the cost of
developing the film.
- Steve Paul Johnson
issued by the National Cemetery Administration.
For more information, contact Sara
Leach at the National Cemetery Administration.