Thousands of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) near Washington may need to be replaced because they contain misspelled names, and incorrect ranks and dates of birth and death, said a US Army report to Congress last week.
After reviewing each of the nearly 260,000 headstones and niche covers on the grounds, officials found that the cemetery’s paperwork did not match with 64,230 headstones.
However many of these errors are not mistakes on the headstone but on the cemetery paperwork.
And some of the discrepancies simply reflect procedural differences. For example it is now a legal requirement to mark the names of spouses on the headstone, but earlier last century they were not marked often.
Officials cited the headstone of Christian Keiner, a Civil War veteran of New York who died in 1919. Although his wife Caroline Keiner was also buried in the plot her name was not on the headstone, and her surname was misspelled as “Kiner” in internal records.
The review of the headstones of the 150-year-old cemetery’s was ordered by Congress last year, following reports of misidentified and misplaced graves. Arlington’s executives were dismissed due to the scandal.
Although the report found no evidence of people buried in the wrong plots, the supervisors of the cemetery said their review was not complete yet.
While Senator Claire McCaskill, a vocal critic of the former Arlington management, told Associated Press news agency that the report to Congress was part of “a turnaround story” at the cemetery, Senator Mark Warner said he awaited a more complete review because the report “raises more questions than it answers”.