The National Cemetery Administration (NCA), a branch of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, oversees over 100 national cemeteries throughout the United States. These cemeteries are the burial place for over 3 million U.S. veterans and their family members. The earliest cemetery was chartered in 1862, although some monuments predate this. These cemeteries are ordered and dignified spaces, featuring a diverse assortment of honorific monuments, memorial sculptures, and architectural features.
Our team was contracted in 2009 to participate in a nationwide survey and assessment of these monuments. Our conservators worked as part of a small team of specialists to assess the monuments, memorials and historic objects at thirty nine national cemeteries throughout the western United States. They visited sites from Texas to Alaska and from Hawaii to Missouri documenting and photographing thousands of headstones, monuments and historic structures in order to make recommendations for treatment and to provide cost estimates to carry out the recommended treatments.
In 2012, we were selected by the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat and preserve monuments in national cemeteries across the country as part of a multi-year project. The project included 70 monuments in 25 different National Cemeteries from Winchester, Virginia to San Francisco, California.
The project involved a wide range of monument types, including memorials to wars, states, individuals, and unknown soldiers. The range of materials included marble, granite, sandstone, bronze, and zinc. Each monument was unique and required a specially-formulated treatment plan based on individual condition assessments. Treatments were designed and implemented by our conservators. Some interventions were small-scale, such as cleaning and repointing, while others required more extensive interventions, such as designing and implementing interior structural support systems for bronze and zinc monuments, or resetting and leveling stone monuments. Work was completed in August of 2014.