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National Cemetery Administration

Site Elements/Features - Flag/Assembly Area

Within the confines of the cemetery, the flag is the single most significant feature. The United States flag is the focus of considerable symbolism for veterans and their survivors. The flagpole and its surrounding area should have its own individual identity, both complementary and harmonious with the natural surroundings. Provide trees/plantings that enhance the setting and are appropriate to the site (native, low maintenance). Use good quality, durable and low-maintenance building materials, such as stone, brick or concrete. Avoid locating the flagpole in conjunction with an operational function, such as the Administration Building, where the flag becomes an adornment of the building.

There shall be one primary flagpole (aluminum or stainless steel) with internal halyard, tall enough to be visible from major adjacent roadways, if practical. Provide ample and unobtrusive flag lighting. Do not use in-ground fixtures. The flag is flown every day, 24 hours a day, if illuminated after dark. During interment services, the flag is lowered to half-staff. The flag should remain visible to the maximum extent possible even when lowered to half-staff. The flagpole shall meet FAA regulations for height and flight safety requirements. Cemetery personnel must be able to access the flagpole to raise and lower the flag for services. A shorter flagpole, 4500 mm to 6000 mm (15' to 30'), in another location may display the POW/ MIA flag. This is frequently located along the Memorial Path.

A turf assembly area, with the U.S. flag as its focus, should be developed for major gatherings of people on holidays. Terrain and landscaping should define the space and create a scale that is also comfortable for smaller gatherings. The assembly area should be located to take advantage of views on- and off-site. Definition of the immediate surroundings should establish a distinct open space for assemblies and ceremonies and yet be an attractive year-round feature. The space for assembly can serve multiple uses and should not consume land area which could be used for interments. The design should not include permanent seating.

The assembly area should incorporate a focal point -- an architectural or landscape architectural feature in the spirit of a traditional rostrum -- that can be used as a speakers' platform. The feature should accommodate enough portable seating for twenty dignitaries. An area adjacent to the speakers' platform should accommodate enough portable seating for a 40-piece band. Provide adequate electrical service to meet ceremonial and maintenance needs. Electrical J-boxes should be out of sight and blend into their surroundings. Provide access to water to clean the assembly area paving. Parking for special events and programs is accommodated on roadways and sometimes on the turf in undeveloped interment areas.