During the years they served their country, the veterans now buried in the Cumberland County Veterans’ Cemetery proudly wore their uniforms and adhered to a meticulous dress code that bonded them together as a unit. They marched, trained and fought in a spirit of honor and common purpose.
In that same spirit, the Office of Veterans’ Affairs and Interment will begin more stringent enforcing of the existing rules established when the cemetery was opened. These rules were designed to guarantee implementation of a certain level of uniformity unique to veterans at the cemetery located on Trench Road in Hopewell.
Over time, according to officials, there has been a slow deterioration of compliance. The goal, beginning March 15th, is to re-establish adherence. Two signs with the rules posted have been placed at the cemetery, which should assist families and friends of the interred understand how to comply.
“The vision is a pristine, simple appearance that lends integrity and honor to the military ways that each veteran participated in during their service,” said Veterans’ Affairs Director Diana Pitman. “Uniformity is essential to honoring our veterans.”
By uniformity, Pitman says she envisions a cemetery with one or two cones with flowers placed at the top of graves above the marker. On special remembrance days, the cemetery (rather than individual families) will place flags beside the flowers.
As of March 15th, all other objects such as solar lights, plants in pots, hanging and in-ground plants, personal items of sentiment, pictures and personally placed flags will be removed in accordance with the rules and regulations.
Pitman said the regulations are not intended to be insensitive to families. “It’s the difference between a civilian cemetery and a veterans’ cemetery,” she explained. “As a civilian, when you get up in the morning you are able to choose whatever outfit you want to wear that day. It can be any color, pattern or design. Individually it looks beautiful. But when you put a group of civilians together with all the different colors, patterns and accessories, it may look brash and out of sync by military standards. In the military, persons are taught uniformity. The same uniform is worn by all and it must be worn a certain way so that when seen as a group it is a portrait of a team rather than the individual.”
Freeholder Tony Surace, the Veterans’ Affairs liaison, said Cumberland County has a beautiful veterans’ cemetery. “With total compliance from everyone, it will realize its full potential as a place that represents the unity of veterans as brothers and sisters in arms.”
Pitman said flags placed previously have already been removed from grave sites in compliance with the U.S. Flag Code (and in conjunction with all national, state and municipal veterans’ and military cemeteries). According to the Code, the American flag is only to be displayed from sunrise to sundown unless illuminated. Having a flag on each gravesite 24/7 actually demeans the intent of its’ display. Flags are never to be used for any form of decoration and are only to be placed on veterans’ graves on Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Veterans’ Day and other specific dates designated as remembrance days.
“Although the sight of hundreds of flags flying is truly majestic, it is also important that we comply with the standards of respect that are mandated by the United States Flag Code,” said Pitman. “It is really important for families and friends of the interred veteran and the community at large to understand the difference between use of a flag as a constant decoration versus the occasional proper display as a tribute or remembrance.”
Pitman says flags will be placed on all graves during designated observances and notes that a flagstaff at the center of the Veterans’ Cemetery plaza will continue to have a 24 hour display of the large American flag in compliance with proper illumination during hours of darkness. “Our veterans will never be without Old Glory as it is our sincere intent to make sure that our county veterans cemetery is a place of pride, respect and final repose for our veterans to be watched over as she flies majestically in their honor.”
CUMBERLAND COUNTY VETERANS CEMETERY
Rules & Regulations
- Fresh, artificial and small plants must be in floral cones.
- Only 2 floral cones permitted at TOP edge of grave.
- No in-ground planting of any type.
- Potted plants, wreaths, flags, emblems or other decorative articles are NOT permitted on graves unless specifically authorized during defined holidays.
- Flowers of any type may be removed at the discretion of cemetery personnel when they become unsightly, faded or wilted.
- Evergreen blankets and wreaths permitted 15 December – 15 January.
- Wreaths and/or floral arrangements are permitted up to one week during Specified Holidays:
- Mothers’ Day
- Memorial Day
- Fathers’ Day
- Independence Day
- Veterans’ Day
- No eternal and/or solar lights are permitted on graves.
- No modifications or changes may be made to grave markers or concrete footings without authorization from the Veterans Interment Office.
Any items and/or displays that are NOT in compliance with these rules will automatically be removed by cemetery personnel.