National Cemetery Administration
Nashville National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn until dusk.
This cemetery has space available for cremated remains. We may be able to accommodate casketed remains in the same gravesite of previously interred family members.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. For more information visit our eligibility web page.
From the Nashville International Airport travel Interstate 40 west to Briley Parkway North. Travel Briley Parkway north for approximately 10 miles to Exit 14A Gallatin Road/Madison. Cemetery will be about ¼ mile on your left. From Interstate 65, take Briley Parkway/Opryland exit and travel two miles to north and take Gallatin Road/Madison exit. Cemetery will be ¼ mile on your left.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
The grave location of your loved one is furnished on the map included in the burial document folder. There is a gravesite locator at the administration building to assist visitors who may not know the location of the gravesite.
A temporary grave marker is used to mark the grave following the interment. A permanent grave marker will be furnished free of charge by the Government without application from the family. Every effort is made to have the grave marker delivered and set within 60 days from the day of interment.
Immediately after each interment, the grave is filled and leveled. As soon as the headstone/marker is set, the site will be seeded. Until growing conditions are favorable and turf has been established, burial areas may be substandard in appearance. A new grave requires repeated renovation because the soil continues to sink after a burial. Matters that appear to need immediate corrective action should be brought to the attention of the cemetery director.
The United States flag is flown over national cemeteries every day. The flag is flown at half-staff on the morning of Memorial Day and during interment services. Graves are decorated with small United States flags the day before Memorial Day and are removed immediately after the holiday. Flags are not permitted on graves at any other time.
For educational materials and additional information on this cemetery, please visit the Education section, located below.
Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Fresh cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time. Metal containers, other than permanent types, are available in boxes at the grave locators placed at the front and rear of the facility. The flower containers will be removed from the grave when the flowers become unsightly, and the containers will be replaced in the boxes for reuse.
Artificial flowers and potted plants will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance such as during mowing season. As a general rule, artificial flowers and potted plants will be allowed on graves for a period extending 10 days before through 10 days after Easter Sunday.
Christmas wreaths, grave blankets and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 1 through Jan. 10, they will be removed by Jan. 10. They may not be secured to headstones or markers. In observance of Memorial Day, flowers will not be permitted on the graves from the Thursday before Memorial Day to the first Friday in June. Digging is not permitted on the graves at any time.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery, or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent flower containers are authorized in certain burial sections. The Government is not responsible for the safeguarding, maintenance, replacement or return of the container should they become damaged. National Cemeteries can neither purchase nor sell flower containers, nor act as agents for commercial firms selling flower containers to individuals. The containers must consist of an outside sheath set into the ground, with a separate vase that fits into the sheath. In sections where they are permitted, the containers will not be placed in the ground until one year or more after the interment. The one-year waiting period will minimize damage or loss of the containers caused by the initial settlement of soil. All permanent vases will be placed to the side of the headstones, not in front of them.
It is suggested that artificial arrangements be marked so the donor can later be identified, if needed. Wind sometimes moves arrangements off the gravesites, and labeling them will help our employees to relocate them.
The national cemetery staff will decorate all graves prior to Memorial Day with small flags. These flags will be removed immediately after Memorial Day and are not permitted on graves at any other time.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in an inconspicuous holding area for two weeks prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain the property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
Nashville National Cemetery is located in Madison, Tenn., in Davidson County approximately six miles northeast of Nashville’s city center. The tracks of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bisect the cemetery. An easement for the right of way was granted to the railroad in perpetuity in 1912.
Most of the land for Nashville National Cemetery was acquired shortly after the Civil War. In July 1866, 45 acres were transferred to the United States from Morton B. Howell, master of the Chancery Court of Nashville, in accordance with the decree of the court. During the first few months of 1867, another 17 acres were conveyed in the same manner. The final portion, about 1-1/2 acres, was purchased by the United States in 1879 from J. Watts Judson.
The original interments were the remains of soldiers removed from temporary burial grounds around Nashville’s general hospitals, as well as the Civil War battlefields at Franklin and Gallatin, Tenn., and Bowling Green and Cave City, Ky. There are 4,141 unknowns interred at Nashville National Cemetery.
The stone wall around the cemetery and the limestone archway at the entrance were both constructed in 1870. At one time, rumors held that the remains of three Union soldiers were entombed at the top of the archway, but there is no evidence to support this claim. The present lodge, the third constructed at the cemetery, was built near the site of the original lodge and was completed in 1931.
Nashville National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Monuments and Memorials
Nashville National Cemetery is home to one of five monumental masonry archways that originally served as the formal entrance to national cemeteries found in the South. Three are managed by NCA: Marietta, Ga., built 1883; Chattanooga, Tenn., built ca.1880; and Nashville, Tenn., built ca.1870. These Roman-inspired structures are approximately 35 feet high with Doric columns, a pair of ornamental iron gates, and inscriptions above. The two other memorial arches are found at Arlington National Cemetery, built 1879, and Vicksburg National Cemetery, ca. 1880, properties managed by the Department of Defense and National Park Service, respectively.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Private John Carr, (Civil War) Company G, 8th U.S. Cavalry. Chiricahua Mountains, Ariz., Oct. 29, 1869 (Section KK, Grave 16550).
Private Charles P. Cantrell, (Spanish American War) Company F, 10th U.S. Infantry. Santiago, Cuba, July 1, 1898 (Section 1, Grave 132).
Corporal William Franklin Lyell, (Korean War) U.S. Army, Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Near Chup'a-ri, Korea, Aug. 31, 1951 (Section 1, Grave 151).
Staff Sergeant Barry A. Sadler, (Vietnam), U.S. Army, he wrote the famous song, "The Ballad of the Green Beret," (Section NN, Grave 64).
One of the oldest private markers in the cemetery is a spire located in Section M, Grave 16234, which was dedicated in memory of James Leonard of the 1st Kansas Battery. He was killed by guerrillas on Jan. 23, 1864 and interred on Jan. 27, 1864.
Chaplain Erastus M. Cravath, 101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was interred in Section MM., Grave 16694. Chaplain Cravat was one of the founders of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and served for 25 years as its president.
Colonel James W. Lawless of the Kentucky Cavalry was buried in Section MM., Grave 10662 on June 25, 1899. Colonel Lawless was born in Ireland and came to the United States at the age of 16.
Colonel Edward S. Jones, Commander of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, was also the founder of the Department of Tennessee and Georgia Grand Army of the Republic and served as Commander for many years. He was interred in Section MM, Grave 16520 in November 1866.
There are so many men and women interred here who were decorated for their bravery in action that it is impossible to list them all. The American flag is proudly flown 24 hours a day as a symbol of our diligence to ensure that the consecrated grounds of this cemetery will remain a living trust in remembrance of the men and women who are at eternal rest.
Educational content is being developed for this national cemetery. New materials will be posted when the information becomes available. For additional information on the Veterans Legacy Program or the NCA History Program, please visit the web page for the Veterans Legacy Program and the NCA History page. Thank you for your interest in learning about the National Cemetery Administration.