Religious Symbols on V. A. Headstones – Tombstone Tuesdays January 14, 2020

Over 700 words!

While I have posted about the V. A. Grave Locator website several times before – V. A. Nationwide Gravesite Locator – Tombstone Tuesdays December 31, 2019, United States National Cemetery System – Tombstone Tuesdays July 16, 2019, and V. A. Nationwide Gravesite Locator – Tombstone Tuesdays February 19, 2019. With the last link, I included the part about religious symbols, but it was far enough down, it could have been missed. I thought it was important to make a Tombstone Tuesdays post about it on its own.

There have been some religious symbols that have changed over the years. I found one in a Wichita cemetery that was not on the list. I had to do a search for it online and found which denomination it used to represent.  They replaced it with a new symbol. Another example is the cross. At some point, the cross was circled; later, it was no longer circled. Compare the crosses these two (2) headstones – (died 1997 – no circle) and (died 1977 – circled). Note: for certain headstones, religious symbols are not allowed, usually the Civil War and Spanish American War headstones due to their design.

Here’s one I had to hunt for as it changed sometime after 2008 – See #8 Unitarian Church for what the design now looks like. Took me a while to find as I remember which cemetery it was in, but not the name on the headstone. In my search several years ago, my parameters described what the symbol looked like. I found it on some blog with what group used it. I lost the blog link years ago.

I am adding the Wikipedia link – and because it often links to more information about a particular symbol.

Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers: (some have changed over the years, but these are the versions available now).

Print version of Available Emblems of Belief.

No graphics (logos, symbols, etc.) are permitted on Government-furnished headstones or markers other than the available emblems of belief, the Civil War Union Shield, the Civil War Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and the Medal of Honor insignias.

An emblem of belief for inscription on a Government headstone or marker is an emblem or symbol that represents the sincerely held belief of the decedent that constituted a religion or the functional equivalent of religion and was believed and/or accepted as true by that individual during his or her life. The belief represented by an emblem need not be associated with or endorsed by a group or organization.

Emblems of belief for inscription on Government headstones and markers do not include social, cultural, ethnic, civic, fraternal, trade, commercial, political, professional or military emblems. VA will not inscribe any emblem on a headstone or marker that would have an adverse impact on the dignity and solemnity of cemeteries honoring those who served the Nation. Emblems that would not be permitted include (but are not limited to), emblems that contain explicit or graphic depictions or descriptions of sexual organs or sexual activities that are shocking, titillating, or pandering in nature; and emblems that display coarse or abusive language or images.

If you are applying for a headstone or marker and the emblem you desire is not currently available, please see information below:

Who Can Request a New Emblem of Belief?

CFR 38.632 rule states that the following individuals may request a new emblem of belief for inscription on a headstone or marker: the decedent’s next-of-kin (NOK), a person authorized in writing by the NOK, or a personal representative authorized in writing by the decedent.

Instructions for Requesting an Emblem not Available for Inscription

To submit a request for an emblem of belief not available for inscription, the requestor must:

  1. Establish that there is an immediate need for a Government headstone/marker to be furnished for a deceased eligible individual (i.e., submission of VA-Form 40-1330, for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, verification from national or state Veterans’ cemetery officials).
  2. Certify that the proposed new emblem of belief represents the decedent’s religious affiliation or sincerely held religious belief system, or a sincerely held belief system that was functionally equivalent to a religious belief system in the life of the decedent.
  3. Submit a three-inch diameter digitized black and white representation of the requested emblem that is free of copyright or trademark restrictions or authorized by the owner for inscription on Government-furnished headstones and markers and can be reproduced in a production-line environment in stone or bronze without loss of graphic quality.

Submit all information to the following address:

Memorial Products Service (41B)
Department of Veterans Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903

Previous Tombstone Tuesdays posts:



About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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