The first headstones at Arlington National Cemetery were simple white headstones with the personal information and gravesite number etched into the stone. Later, lithochrome (a special type of water-resistant paint applied to headstones/markers that darkens all of the letters) was introduced to make the inscriptions easier to read.
Over time, depending on location, conditions and the specific lithochrome paint used, the blackening fades. The fading occurs in a very non-uniform way, both within a particular headstone and across a section. Additionally, there are sections that were traditionally non-lithochromed where lithochromed headstones have been introduced.
Lithochrome is no longer used except for
headstones ordered for first interments (at the time of interment) in Section
60, as well as niche covers for the Columbarium Courts 1-9 and the Niche Wall.
- Markers are not reordered due to fading of lithochrome. If a headstone requires replacement for another reason, it will not contain lithochrome. When niche covers are in need of replacement lithochrome will be applied.