Military headstones

From: National Defence

Headstones in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are designed after those from the first and second world wars. Even though you can personalize your headstone, it’s important that it still meets the customs and traditions of the CAF. Headstones can be made in either English or French, and may also be billigual.

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These are the engravings that can be made on your headstone:

  • Organization badges approved by the CAF, they must reflect your nature and period of service
  • Regimental or service number and rank. These are engraved together on a single line. Only the rank or designation held at the time of final release or death will be engraved
  • Your legal name and post-nominals that represent orders, decorations and medals. These will all appear on the same line
  • One service affiliation that matches the chosen badge. If one badge represents more than one affiliation, only the affiliations you had during your service will be used
  • One religious symbol that is authorized by the Canadian Forces Chaplain General’s Office. A religious emblem is not mandatory.

Markings for family

The information about a family member is engraved on the lower section of the same headstone used for the CAF member.

If the family member is also serving or has former service, the pattern of engraving will be almost identical to that of the member. At the base of the headstone, you can either have:

  • one religious symbol for both members
  • a badge to represent the family member’s service affiliation

For family members who are not current or former service members you must include:

  • a statement of the relationship to the CAF member
  • a short term of endearment which must be placed on the line immediately after the name of the family member

The phrase for the term of endearment must be formal and nicknames cannot be included. The manager of the National Military Cemetery of the CAF has the authority to reject a chosen phrase if it’s considered unsuitable.

Changing a headstone

If a modification is required because of an error made by the CAF, costs to correct that error will normally be covered by the CAF.

If you want to change the information on an already existing headstone (eg. replace the religious symbol with a badge, term of endearment) you will likely have to replace the entire headstone at your expense.


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