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Title 36

Displaying title 36, up to date as of 9/23/2021. Title 36 was last amended 5/03/2021.

Title 36

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51 FR 8979, Mar. 14, 1986, unless otherwise noted.

§ 12.1 Applicability and scope.

The regulations in this part apply to the national cemeteries administered by the National Park Service. These regulations supplement regulations found in parts 1-5 and 7 of this chapter and provide procedural guidance for the administration, operation and maintenance of these cemeteries.

§ 12.2 Purpose of National Cemeteries.

National cemeteries are established as national shrines in tribute to the gallant dead who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Such areas are protected, managed and administered as suitable and dignified burial grounds and as significant cultural resources. As such, the authorization of activities that take place in national cemeteries is limited to those that are consistent with applicable legislation and that are compatible with maintaining the solemn commemorative and historic character of these areas.

§ 12.3 Definitions.

The following definitions apply only to the regulations in this part:

Burial section means a plot of land within a national cemetery specifically designated to receive casketed or cremated human remains.

Close relative means a surviving spouse, parent, adult brother or sister, or adult child.

Commemorative monument means a monument, tablet, structure, or other commemorative installation of permanent materials to honor more than one veteran.

Demonstration means a demonstration, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding a vigil or religious service, or any other like form of conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers. This term does not include casual park use by persons that is not reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers.

Eligible person means an individual authorized by Federal statute and VA Policy to be interred or memorialized in a national cemetery.

Government headstone means a standard upright stone, provided by the Veterans Administration, of the same design currently in use in a national cemetery to identify the interred remains.

Gravesite reservation means a written agreement executed between a person and the National Park Service to secure a gravesite prior to the death of an eligible person.

Headstone means a permanent stone placed vertically on a grave to identify the interred remains.

Historic enclosure means a permanent fence, wall, hedge, or other structure that surrounds the burial sections and defines the unique historic boundary of a national cemetery.

Marker means a permanent device placed horizontally on a grave to identify the interred remains.

Memorial headstone means a private or government headstone placed in a memorial section of a national cemetery with the words “In Memory Of” inscribed to honor a deceased eligible person whose remains could not be interred in the national cemetery.

NPS Policy means the National Park Service's Guidelines for National Cemeteries, NPS-61.

Private headstone means an upright stone provided by a person at no expense to the government and in lieu of a government headstone.

Recreational activity means any form of athletics, sport or other leisure pursuit or event, whether organized or spontaneous, that is engaged in by one or more persons for the primary purpose of exercise, relaxation or enjoyment, including but not limited to the following: jogging, racing, skating, skateboarding, ball playing, kite flying, model airplane flying, throwing objects through the air, sunbathing, bicycling and picknicking. This term does not include walking, hiking or casual strolling.

Special event means a sports event, pageant, celebration, historical reenactment, entertainment, exhibition, parade, fair, festival, or similar activity that is not a demonstration, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers. This term does not include casual park use by persons that is not reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers.

VA Policy means the current editions of the Veterans Administration's Manuals that pertain to the administration of the National Cemetery System.

[51 FR 8979, Mar. 14, 1986, as amended at 79 FR 33436, June 11, 2014]

§ 12.4 Special events and demonstrations.

Conducting a special event or demonstration, whether spontaneous or organized, is prohibited except for official commemorative events conducted for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other dates designated by the superintendent as having special historic and commemorative significance to a particular national cemetery. Committal services are excluded from this restriction.

§ 12.5 Interments.

(a) Who may be interred. A person's eligibility for burial in a national cemetery is determined in accordance with the provisions of Federal statutory law. Interments are conducted in accordance with NPS policy and VA Policy.

(b) Burial permit.

(1) A burial permit is required in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State and local municipality within whose boundaries the cemetery is located.

(2) The remains of a member of the Armed Forces who dies on active duty may be interred prior to receipt of a burial permit.

(3) The superintendent shall process a burial permit in accordance with VA Policy.

(c) Gravesite assignment.

(1) Gravesite assignment and allotment are made according to VA Policy which specifies that only one gravesite is authorized for the burial of an eligible member of the Armed Forces and eligible immediate family members. Exceptions to this practice may be approved only by the Director.

(2) The superintendent is responsible for the actual assignment of a gravesite.

(3) The superintendent may not accept a new gravesite reservation. A gravesite reservation granted in writing prior to the adoption of the one-gravesite-per-family-unit restriction shall be honored as long as the person remains eligible.

(d) Burial sections.

(1) The superintendent of each national cemetery shall develop an interment plan for burial sections in keeping with the historic character of the national cemetery, to be approved by the Regional Director.

(2) The superintendent shall specify gravesite dimensions that conform to the historic design of the national cemetery.

(3) Expansion of a burial section is prohibited without the approval of the Regional Director.

(4) An interment is authorized only within a burial section; the superintendent may not authorize an interment within a memorial section.

(5) Cremated remains may be scattered in a national cemetery in conformance with the provisions of § 2.62 of this chapter and applicable State laws.

(6) Expansion of a national cemetery outside the confines of its historic enclosure is prohibited.

§ 12.6 Disinterments and exhumations.

(a) Interment of an eligible person's remains is considered permanent. Disinterment and removal of remains are allowed only for the most compelling of reasons and may be accomplished only under the supervision of the superintendent.

(b) Except for a directed exhumation conducted pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section, a disinterment is allowed only pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit issued by the superintendent.

(c) A disinterment shall be accomplished at no cost to the National Park Service. The superintendent shall establish a fee designed to recover the costs associated with supervising and administering a disinterment, including the costs of opening and closing the grave and redressing any disturbed graves or headstones.

(d) The next-of-kin is responsible for making all arrangements and incurring all financial obligations related to a disinterment. These arrangements and obligations include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) Compliance with State and local health laws and regulations;

(2) Engaging a funeral director;

(3) Recasketing the remains;

(4) Rehabilitation of the gravesite according to conditions established by the superintendent;

(5) Providing the superintendent a notorized affidavit by each living close relative of the deceased and by the person who directed the initial interment, if living, and even though the legal relationship of such person to the decedent may have changed, granting permission for the disinterment; and

(6) Providing the superintendent a sworn statement, by a person having first hand knowledge thereof, that those who supplied such affidavits comprise all the living close relatives of the decedent, including the person who directed the initial interment.

(e) The following are prohibited:

(1) Failure to obtain a permit required pursuant to this section;

(2) Violation of a condition established by the superintendent or of a term or condition of a permit issued in accordance with this section; or

(3) Failure to pay a fee prescribed by the superintendent in accordance with this section.

(f) The directed exhumation of an eligible person's remains shall be accomplished upon receipt by the superintendent of an order issued by a State or Federal court of competent jurisdiction. The superintendent shall retain court orders and other pertinent documents in the national cemetery files as a permanent record of the action.

(g) To the extent practicable, a directed exhumation shall be accomplished without expense to the National Park Service and without direct participation by national cemetery employees.

(h) The superintendent shall coordinate a directed exhumation with the ordering court, assure compliance with all State and local laws and supervise disinterment activities on site.

(i) If reinterment of exhumed remains is to be elsewhere, the superintendent may reassign the gravesite for use in connection with another interment.

§ 12.7 Headstones and markers.

(a) Government headstones and markers authorized to be furnished at government expense are provided in accordance with NPS Policy and VA Policy.

(b) The erection of a marker or monument at private expense to mark a grave in lieu of a government headstone or marker is allowed only in certain national cemetery sections in which private headstones and markers were authorized as of January 1, 1947, and only with the prior approval of the Director. The name of the person(s) responsible for the purchase and erection of the private headstone or marker may not appear on the headstone or marker or be identified elsewhere in the cemetery as the donor(s) of the private headstone or marker.

(c) A person who requests authorization to erect a private headstone or marker shall provide the following information:

(1) A list of the names of each person to be inscribed upon the private headstone or marker;

(2) The written approval of the next-of-kin and the person who directed the burial of each person whose name is to be inscribed; and

(3) A scale plan depicting the details of design, materials, finish, carving, lettering and arrangement of the inscription and the foundation of the proposed private headstone or marker.

(d) The Director's approval of a request is conditioned upon the applicant's granting to the National Park Service the substantive right to remove and dispose of the private headstone or marker if, after it is installed, the applicant fails to maintain the private headstone or marker in a condition specified by the Director.

(e) When a private headstone or marker has been erected at a veteran's grave in a national cemetery, and the next-of-kin desires to inscribe thereon the name and appropriate data pertaining to an eligible family member of the deceased whose remains will not be interred, such inscription may be accomplished with the prior approval of the superintendent. Appropriate commemorative data may be inscribed when space permits. The words “In Memoriam” or “In Memory Of” are mandatory elements of such an inscription.

(f) Except as may be authorized by the Director or by Federal statutory law for making a group burial, the erection of a mausoleum, an overground vault or a headstone or marker determined by the superintendent not to be in keeping with the historic character of the national cemetery is prohibited. An underground vault may be placed at the time of interment at no expense to the National Park Service.

§ 12.8 Memorial headstones and markers.

(a) Who may be memorialized.

(1) A person's eligibility for memorialization in a national cemetery is determined in accordance with the provisions of Federal statutory law.

(2) The superintendent may authorize the installation of a memorial headstone or marker of an eligible person provided that no more than one individual memorial headstone or marker is authorized for each eligible person. The erection of an individual memorial marker to a person is not allowed in the same national cemetery in which the decedent's name is inscribed on a group burial headstone or marker.

(b) Application.

(1) The person eligible to submit an application requesting a memorial headstone or marker is the next-of-kin of the decedent to be memorialized. An application received from a close relative will be honored if it is submitted on behalf of the next-of-kin or if the next-of-kin is deceased.

(2) An applicant for a memorial headstone or marker shall submit such a request to the superintendent.

§ 12.9 Commemorative monuments.

(a) Application.

(1) A person requesting authorization to erect a commemorative monument shall submit such a request to the Director. The Director's approval should be obtained prior to fabrication of the commemorative marker since approval for installation is conditioned upon compliance with other specifications found in this section and all applicable provisions of this part.

(2) An applicant for authorization to erect a commemorative monument shall include the following information in the application:

(i) A list of the persons to be memorialized and the other data desired to be inscribed on the commemorative monument; and

(ii) A scale plan depicting the details of the design, materials, finish, carving, lettering and the arrangement of the inscription proposed for the commemorative monument.

(b) Specifications.

(1) The Director may only authorize a commemorative monument that conforms to the type, size, materials, design, and specifications prescribed for the historic design of the individual cemetery section in which it is proposed for installation.

(2) The Director may not approve a commemorative monument that bears an inscription that includes the name of the person(s) responsible for its purchase or installation.

(c) Expense. A commemorative monument approved by the Director may be installed only under the conditions that there be no expense or liability incurred by the National Park Service in connection with its purchase, fabrication, transportation, delivery and erection.

(d) Title to a commemorative monument vests in the National Park Service upon its acceptance by an official representative of the Director.

§ 12.10 Floral and commemorative tributes.

The placement on a grave of fresh cut or artificial flowers in or on a metal or other non-breakable rod or container designated by the superintendent is allowed at times designated by the superintendent. The placement of a statue, vigil light, or other commemorative object on a grave, or the securing or attaching of any object to a headstone, marker or commemorative monument is prohibited.

§ 12.11 Recreational activities.

Engaging in a recreational activity is prohibited.

§ 12.12 Information collection.

The information collection requirements contained in §§ 12.6, 12.7, 12.8 and 12.9 have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned clearance number 1024-0026. The information is being collected to obtain information necessary to issue permits and will be used to grant administrative benefits. The obligation to respond is required in order to obtain a benefit.