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First-ever audit of Arlington headstones finds errors

A visitor to Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery near Washington places her hand on the headstone of a fallen soldier
A visitor to Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery near Washington places her hand on the headstone of a fallen soldier

(Reuters) - More than 64,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. may contain typos or other errors, according to a new government report.

The errors, which mar 25 percent of the 260,000 grave markers in what is arguably the nation's best-known military burial ground, include misspelled names and incorrect ranks, birth dates and death dates.

The report -- the first of its kind in Arlington's 147-year history -- was prompted by two studies from the Army's Inspector General that found "serious mismanagement and process failures" at the cemetery. It was published on Thursday.

The audit team spent a year counting gravesites in the cemetery, photographing the grave markers and then comparing the information on them with all available paper and electronic records.

Of the 259,978 graves in the cemetery, which is on the Virginia side of the Potomac River across from Washington, 195,748 checked out. But the investigators found that in 64,230 cases, the information on the headstone did not appear to match the paper or electronic records.

The review continues.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher and Karin Matz; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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