Memorial Day - May 31, 2004
The national tradition of Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, dates back to 1868. The event initially began as a day to clean and ornament the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. Over the years, Memorial Day observances have grown to include parades, ceremonies featuring decorated veterans, and special events at many of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 120 national cemeteries. Memorial Day will have special significance this year for World War II veterans and their families, with the commemoration of two important milestones. First is the dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The World War II Memorial is our nations first monument honoring the 16 million men and women who served in the armed forces during the war, the more than 400,000 who died, and all those who supported the war effort on the home front. Second, this year marks the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. As Memorial Day is observed around the country, is highlighting benefit programs available for veterans and the families of deceased veterans.

For more information about the World War II Memorial, and the Memorial Day weekend dedication activities visit To learn more about Memorial Day, and Memorial Day events taking place around the country, visit VA's Memorial Day homepage.

Burial Expenses Allowance for Veterans
A VA burial allowance is a partial reimbursement of an eligible veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursement is generally disbursed in two payments: (1) burial and funeral expense allowance (2) plot interment allowance. For more information visit

Government Headstones and Markers for Private Cemeteries
This benefit program provides lasting memorials for the graves of eligible veterans throughout the world, and honors their service through Presidential Memorial Certificates. For more information, visit

National Cemeteries
The goals of the program are to provide burial space and perpetual care for veterans and members of the Armed Forces of the United States whose service terminated other than dishonorably. For more information visit

Presidential Memorial Certificates
A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is a gold embossed paper certificate inscribed with the veteran's name that bears the President's signature. It honors the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans. For more information visit