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Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 27, 2014

Fort Sam Houston Cemetery begins strictly enforcing existing floral regulations, policies

By Steve Elliott JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs

Effective Saturday, the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery at 1520 Harry Wurzbach Road will more strictly enforce the existing National Cemetery Administration floral regulations and policies.

This is being done to ensure the cemetery maintains a national shrine appearance and to display dignity and respect to those who are interred there, according to cemetery officials.

"Over the past few years, the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery has tolerated items being placed in the cemetery, particularly on gravesites and headstones that were not authorized according to NCA's long-standing policy and regulations on floral arrangements," said cemetery director H. "Dan" Daniel Phillips.

"Fewer employees also lessened the cemetery's ability to respond to unauthorized items violating NCA's floral arrangement policy such as pinwheels, balloons, potted plants, candles, statues, shepherd's hook and stuffed animals, for example."

To ensure all veterans and their family members receive proper dignity and respect, cemetery leadership and staff will actively ensure all gravesites and headstones comply with NCA policies and established guidelines, the director added.

"We are requesting that families adhere strictly to all posted policies and remain understanding regarding displaying proper respect for all veterans and family members interred there."

The floral policy includes the following rules:

· Fresh cut flowers are permitted on graves year round. Flowers may be removed to facilitate cemetery operations such as lawn mowing and grounds maintenance.

· Flower pick-up dates are posted on "Next Flower Pick-Up" signs posted at cemetery entrances. During flower pick-up dates, all floral items will be removed from graves. Persons who placed floral items on graves may recover those items from their loved one's gravesites prior to the scheduled pick-up dates.

· Artificial flowers may be placed on graves throughout the year, but may be removed as soon as they become faded and unsightly.

· Items not permitted on gravesites will be removed from graves to be held in a centralized area on cemetery grounds and will be held for one month prior to disposal. The cemetery staff will assist families in retrieval of the tributes when requested.

· Flowers delivered by a florist must have all wrapping paper removed and no other packing materials may be left at the gravesite.

· The cemetery director reserves the right to remove and destroy without notice, anything left on graves that violates the intent of these regulations, offends the sensibilities of the public, or the dignity of this cemetery, is an eyesore, or threat to the safety of the public or cemetery personnel.

· Plantings or potted plants will not be permitted on graves at any time.

· Christmas wreaths or grave blankets are permitted on graves during the Christmas season from Dec. 1 until Jan. 20 of each year. Grave floral blankets may not be larger than 2 feet by 3 feet. Cemetery trees, shrubs and/or any other plants may not be decorated with any ornaments of any kind at any time.

· To preserve the dignity of the cemetery, items placed on graves must be floral in nature. Commemorative items, balloons, pinwheels, glass items, votive or vigil lights, candles, statues, shepherd's hook and stuffed animals are not permitted.

· Floral items and other types of decorations or objects may not be attached to headstones, markers or niches at any time.

· Plastic or metal vases are only permitted on graves. Cemetery-supplied vases are federal property and are not allowed to be removed from the cemetery. Plastic vases are located in receptacles throughout the cemetery and should be returned to the receptacles when no longer needed.

· Glass or easily breakable objects of any kind are not permitted in the cemetery and will be immediately removed.

· Headstones are federal property. Altering or marking by paint, marker, lipstick or any other means is considered vandalism and may be subject to penalty as defined in Title 38 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 1.218 "Security and Law Enforcement at VA Facilities."

· Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery assumes no responsibility for items left on gravesites. Due to the open nature of the grounds, we cannot guarantee against theft, vandalism or the effects of nature.

· Anyone caught removing items from gravesites not their own will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

For more information, call the cemetery office at 820-3891.