Everyone in the death care industry has seen gravestones that have fallen into disrepair. One American man, Trae Zipperer, learned about the extent of this during his journey to see all the gravesites of his ancestors. After traveling across 5 states and stopping in over 80 cemeteries he became very passionate about the upkeep of gravestones. In particular those of US veterans.
US military veterans are entitled to a gravesite in a national cemetery, a graveliner, a headstone or marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a U.S. Flag, and perpetual care for the grave at no cost to the Veteran’s family, however if the family chooses to select a non national cemetery then veterans can receive a free gravestone from the Veteran Affairs Department, but there is no regulation about their upkeep after they enter families chosen cemeteries. Zipperer wants to change this so that all veterans gravestones, which are paid for by the taxpayers, are also available to be upkept by volunteers, if family members are no longer around or able to.
To get the movement going his volunteer organization called By Memorial Day is attempting to create a national day that encourages Americans to get out and clean their local veterans’ gravesites. The organization’s event hub is in Fort Myers, Florida, but the dream is to have the event go all across the United States. January 11th 2020 is the first time the new event took place and they had a WW2 veteran join as a special guest.
Zipperer however isn’t alone in his passion of protecting graves. The non-profit Cemetery Conservators for United Standards works year long on all types of graves and cemeteries, in addition to providing education about preservation, restoration, legalities, and maintenance.
It’s a positive sign for the death care industry that the public is staying involved with the cemeteries and the memories of those have gone. As long as the proper care and procedures are kept in place it’s a great way for professionals and community members to come together and remember.