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by Michael Mitchell
excerpts from the "Handbook for Grave Etiquette, Conservation and Preservation"
When ever you first approach a stone, think of one, what the Veteran would have wanted; two, the spirit and emotions behind the wife or immediate family that placed the stone; and/or; three, the organization, UCV, UDC or SCV that may have marked
the Veteran in the absence of a family. The stone represents the Veteran and/or the people that placed it.
On a personal level, consider that stone as sort of sacred, definitely historical, and actually a part of the Vet. To restore a stone is to remember and honor the veteran, to discard a stone no matter what condition it’s in, is to discard a part of the veteran and his honor or discard his history.
Another thought to keep in mind is that materials are affected by time, acid rain, maintenance crews and vandalism, and will deteriorate in time. As with us, the material is “dust to dust, ashes to ashes”. Nothing is permanent.
4 Mortal Sins:
1. Disposing of “OLD” or “ILLEGIBLE” stones; Never, never. Please! Don’t point fingers on this one, it’s done by a few so called preservation experts, monument companies, SCV, UDC groups and even family descendants. (see disposition of old stones below)
2. Discarding broken stones or any small pieces, in many cases, it should be restored, not replaced. A professional can usually repair it to almost normal.
3. Pressure Cleaning: with sand or water. If seen, please shoot them on sight! This should never be done under any condition.
4. Strong chemicals: Bleach, ammonia, acetone or industrial soap for cleaning stones should never be used!
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