On July 17, 1862, Congress enacted legislation that authorized President Lincoln to purchase “cemetery grounds” to be used as national cemeteries “for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country.” Fourteen cemeteries were established that first year. There are now over 135 national cemeteries.
We are fortunate to have a national cemetery right in our backyard. Fort Custer National Cemetery is located on Dickman Road in Augusta, MI.
Named for General George Armstrong Custer, the original Camp Custer was built in 1917, as part of the military mobilization during World War I. After the war, it also served as a demobilization camp. The cemetery itself was not created until 1943. It was not until 1981 that Fort Custer cemetery officially became Fort Custer National Cemetery.
In addition to providing a gravesite free of charge, the national cemetery also provides a grave liner, the opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a U. S. Flag and perpetually cares for the grave at no cost to the veteran’s family.
These benefits are provided to the veteran and his/her spouse. There are also instances in which a dependent child of a veteran can also be buried in a national cemetery.
To become eligible for burial at a national cemetery, the veteran’s family needs to provide the veteran’s DD-214 (Honorable Discharge form). This form is submitted, usually by the funeral home, to National Scheduling, where eligibility is determined and where a date and time for burial can be set.
Also, at no charge, military honors can be rendered at the national cemetery, for the burial of a veteran. These honors include a military salute, the playing of taps, and the folding and presentation of a U.S. Flag.
Many people do not understand that the burial of cremated remains may also take place at a national cemetery. In this instance earth burial is an option, as is the use of the columbarium wall.
Ft. Custer provides a clean setting, properly maintained for the burial of our veterans. The Avenue of Flags is a beautifully dramatic entry.
At Joldersma & Klein, we believe that there no greater honor we could provide to the heroes who served our county in our armed forces.
If you have questions about Ft. Custer or any other of our national cemeteries, please contact us.