On October 3, 1999, Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery was dedicated as the 117th national cemetery within the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration. When fully developed, this 982-acre cemetery will provide 400,000 burial spaces. The cemetery offers 150 acres, including 25,000 gravesites and 2,000 lawn crypts for casketed remains, 3,000 columbaria niches, and 2,300 garden niches for cremated remains. In addition, there are four committal service shelters, a memorial walkway that commemorates soldiers of the 20th century, and a public information center with a kiosk grave locator.
Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
20953 W. Hoff Road Elwood, IL 60421
On August 26, 2003, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery inaugurated an all-volunteer memorial squad to assist in military honors. When possible, the melodic sound of live taps can be heard echoing throughout the serene cemetery grounds; otherwise, electronic taps are available at three committal shelters. The DOD program, Honoring Those Who Served, allows funeral directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family. The family may request a detail consisting of at least two uniformed military persons—at least one being a member of the veteran’s branch of service—to provide folding and presentation of the U.S. flag. Families may also request the playing of taps, either by a high-quality recording or a bugler.
VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran and to a person entitled to retired military pay. After the service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices, national cemeteries, and post offices.
VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran, or military cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite, and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank, or rate; war service, such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one’s beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense. When burial is in a national, state veteran, or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping, and placement can be obtained from the cemetery. When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veteran cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave. To apply, you must complete VA form 40-1330. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. Use the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents to help you fill out the application as completely as possible. Forms and assistance are available at VA regional offices. To apply, mail your application to the Quantico, Virginia, mailing address. You may use either the U.S. Postal Service or one of the mail delivery services commercially available. The address is: Memorial Programs Service (41A1) Department of Veterans Affairs 5109 Russell Road Quantico, VA 22134-3903 For information regarding the status of an application, you may call the Director, Office of Memorial Programs (403B3), at 800-697-6947. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. Twenty-year reservists without active duty service are eligible for a headstone or marker if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.
To memorialize an eligible veteran whose remains are not available for burial, VA will provide a plot and headstone or marker in a national cemetery. The headstone or marker is the same as that used to identify a grave except that the mandatory phrase “In Memory of” precedes the authorized inscription. The headstone or marker is available to memorialize eligible veterans or deceased active-duty members whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. The memorial marker may be provided for placement in a cemetery other than a national cemetery. In such a case, VA supplies the marker and pays the cost of shipping, but does not pay for the plot or the placement of the marker. Only a relative recognized as the next of kin may apply for the benefit.
The Presidential Memorial Certificate is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation’s recognition of the veteran’s service. The veteran’s name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the president. Certificates are issued in the name of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include next of kin, other relatives, and friends. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients. The veteran may have died at any time in the past. The local VA regional office generally originates the application for a Presidential Memorial Certificate. The next of kin also may request a certificate. A copy of a document such as a discharge to establish honorable service should accompany requests. VA regional offices can assist in applying for certificates.