Grave markers are used to identify and commemorate lost family, friends and loved ones. They stand as a tribute to ones before us and, in some cases, provide a glimpse into their lives.


Grave markers are used to identify and commemorate lost family, friends and loved ones. They stand as a tribute to ones before us and, in some cases, provide a glimpse into their lives.
Standing beside more than 1,000 gravestones at the McPherson Cemetery are small but significant markers adding another detail to a person’s narrative.
The bronze markers honor veterans young and old; serving as far back as the nation’s civil war to today’s conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Veterans of Foreign War Senior Vice Commander Tom Sheridan said there are five different markers found in the McPherson Cemetery, all marking the graves of veterans. Sheridan, who is in charge of veteran funeral honors for the VFW, said any veteran that served either in the states or on foreign soil with honorable discharge papers is eligible to receive a “veteran” marker. The McPherson VFW post will also provide a marker for its members that served in a foreign war and the McPherson American Legion post will provide markers for its members that had any military service. VFW and Legion auxiliary members can also receive markers.
The American Legion and VFW posts pay for the markers, which run about $24 a piece, and are reimbursed by the county each year. The auxiliary chapters pay for the markers but are not reimbursed.
The markers stand on simple metal posts but weather and the cemetery’s mowing routine take their toll, leaving many damaged or destroyed.
Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion member Willie Johnson said some of the damaged markers can be straightened while some have been damaged to the point that they can no longer stand up straight or be seen above the grave marker.
But Johnson, with the help of city commissioners, the mayor and members of the McPherson Legion and VFW posts, has found a way to help the markers stand tall and properly commemorate the veterans for which they represent.
Using a holder, veteran markers can be permanently placed upright and along side veterans’ head stones. The holders are made from three 3/16 x 1-inch strap steel with a metal tube and set screw that can be driven beside the headstone. The holders allow the markers to be placed directly beside the headstones to prevent additional damage from mowers.
McPherson manufacturer Femco Inc. has agreed to manufacture the holders at cost and Johnson said he hopes to have the holders in the ground around the first of April.
Johnson said nearly 1,500 holders are needed for existing veteran markers, bringing the total cost of the project to more than $8,000.
To cover the cost of the manufacturing, the American Legion and VFW are seeking donations from local businesses and individuals. All donations are tax-deductible and can be mailed to American Legion/VFW Marker Fund c/0 Willie Johnson, 1509 N. Walnut, McPherson.