Finding the resting place of a soldier who died during a war or a veteran who died later can be tricky. So many possibilities exist for where they could be buried; on the battlefield, in an unmarked grave, oversees, in a private cemetery, or in a veteran’s cemetery. While searching for a grave can be a long process, here are some ideas for finding the burial places of soldiers and veterans of the United States.
U. S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs Nationwide Grave Locator
The Veteran Affairs Grave Locator at http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/j2ee/servlet/NGL_v1 allows you to search for the burial place of a veteran and any family members buried with the veteran, in veteran national cemeteries, state cemeteries, other military cemeteries, and private cemeteries where the veteran has a government headstone. The search engine allows you to search by the name of the deceased. There are some limitations to this database such as private cemetery burials are only recorded prior to 1997.
If you are curious about obtaining a military headstone for a veteran , consult the Veterans Affairs website at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm/hm_law.asp. Free headstones are available for those veterans with an unmarked grave. For those with a marked gravesite, consult the website for new legislation that addresses this issue.
American Battle Monuments Commission
For veterans who died oversees, you may want to check out the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) at http://www.abmc.gov/home.php. The Commission is charged with caring for United States veteran cemeteries overseas. Begun in 1917, the Commission looks after 24 cemeteries that are the final resting place for about 125,000 soldiers.
Their online databases, organized by the surname of the deceased and the conflict include: those interred at a World War I or World War II cemetery overseas; those missing in action from World War I and World War II who are memorialized on memorials overseas; those killed worldwide during the Korean War; War dead and veterans of the Mexican War, American Civil War, and Spanish-American War who are buried at American cemeteries in Corozal, Panama and Mexico City; those Missing in Action who are memorialized at the Honolulu Memorial; and all interments at Corozal, including civilians who were working on the Panama Canal. To search their databases, from the main page click on “Burial Listings” on the left hand side and then click on the database that you are interested in.
If you find your soldier listed, the ABMC provides services such as information about the grave location of the cemetery, escort around the cemetery, letters authorizing fee-free passports for immediate family members traveling to the cemetery, photograph of gravestone or name on Tablets of the Missing, arrangements for flowers to be placed on grave, and more.
Civil War Burials
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, an auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, http://www.suvcwdb.org/home/ has a National Graves Registration Database that is searchable by name. Once at this site click on “search entries” to begin your search. This database is a volunteer project that includes the burial places, both government and private, for union veterans of the Civil War. This database can contain information of not only where the veteran is laid to rest but his birth and death date, some military information like rank, enlistment and discharge date and unit he served with, the GAR post he was a member of.
Other Cemetery Sites
Although not military oriented, several other cemetery sites exist that may help you locate a burial. Remember that most of these sites are volunteer driven and may not contain complete transcripts of cemeteries. Other general cemetery listing sites include Interment.net and Find a Grave at http://www.findagrave.com/. Websites like the U.S. Genweb Project, http://usgenweb.org/, and Rootsweb at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ may also contain cemetery transcriptions. While searching the library catalog at Family Search www.familysearch.org), conduct a place search and then check out the cemetery categories for transcriptions done of various cemeteries in a state and county.