- Thousands of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery may need to be replaced or added to accurately account for the dead, following a meticulous Army review of the nearly 260,000 headstones and niche covers on the grounds.
In a report to Congress yesterday, the Army found potential discrepancies between headstones and cemetery paperwork on about 64,000 grave markers - about one in four.
Congress ordered the review last year following reports of misidentified and misplaced graves that led to the ouster of the cemetery's top executives.
There are potentially thousands of minor errors, including misspelled names, or incorrect military ranks and dates of birth and death.
The Army compared information on every headstone to its internal records, scouring handwritten logs of the dead from the Civil War and a hodgepodge of other records to verify accuracy.
In an interview, the cemetery's executive director, Kathryn Condon, said reviews are ongoing and it's premature to try to estimate exactly how many headstones may need replacement.
To be sure, many of the 64,000 discrepancies will turn up no problem with a headstone - it may be as simple as a typo on an internal record. And in many cases, the discrepancies reflect past practices at the cemetery that are now considered outdated.
In most of the early 20th century, the cemetery did not include the name of a wife on a headstone when she was buried next to her husband. Under current practices, the name of the spouse is etched onto the back of the headstone. Condon said the cemetery will add the spouse's name to the gravesite.