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National Cemetery Locations
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On July 17, 1862, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the President 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, including one in the sleepy Maryland town of Sharpsburg where 4,476 Union soldiers were laid to rest after the one day of terrible slaughter that was the Battle of Antietam. (By way of comparison, approximately 3,000 Americans, British and Canadians died on June 6, 1944, in the invasion of Normandy).
More than 3 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict—from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War—are honored by burial in VA’s national cemeteries. Approximately 17,000 acres of land from Hawaii to Maine, and from Alaska to Puerto Rico are devoted to the memorialization of those who served this nation. More than 300 recipients of the Medal of Honor are buried in VA’s national cemeteries.
Today, there are 141 national cemeteries in all. VA, through its National Cemetery Administration, administers 125 of them. Two national Cemeteries—Arlington and Soldiers Home—are still administered by the Army. Fourteen national cemeteries are maintained by the Department of the Interior.
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