Years ago, anyone having a loved one interred at Arlington National Cemetery could request that the interment site be in what is called “a private monument section.”  The “regular sections” at the cemetery entail the same burial options as what one would be entitled to in these so called “private monument sections,” so what is the difference between the two?

The “regular sections” are filled with white upright marble monuments, which all look exactly the same, and are provided by Arlington National Cemetery at no cost to the family.  These white memorial headstones are used in veteran cemeteries throughout the country, and are meant to be identical to each other between cemeteries.  Some people find them to be traditional and appropriate, while others find them to be very limiting.

Regarding the “private monument sections,” these sections have been closed off for many years, so any new burials had to be in the “regular sections” which limited the memorial type.  As of the 3rd quarter of 2011 however, the “private monument sections” have been reopened to families, allowing for much larger, upright granite memorials to be installed, at the expense of the families desiring to purchase them for their loved ones.  The cemetery will not provide these memorials, but will refer families to local monument providers if interest is expressed.

The monument company must obtain approvals from the director of interment services at Arlington National Cemetery on behalf of the family, even after the “private section interment site” has been designated for use by the cemetery.  The monument is then designed, fabricated, and installed directly by the local monument provider, at no expense to the cemetery.

The pros and cons are obvious: Get a free traditional memorial paid for by the US government, while being limited to size, style, lettering, and layout, or pay for your own dignified memorial and design it however you like, assuming you can pay for it.  Either way, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one will be resting with full military honors in the nation’s most famous burial grounds.