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Cemetery Symbols: M is Military (Confederate Camel & Thor’s Hammer)

(photo by Tui Snider)
(photo by Tui Snider)

What’s the story behind military headstones?

Headstones for fallen US soldiers are easy to spot since military specifications require them to be white marble slabs standing 42″ tall and 13″ wide. While combing through cemetery photos to include in this post, however, I came across the headstone for Douglas the Confederate camel, and since I love all things quirky, I could not resist using it for this A to Z post.

“Old Douglas,” as he was fondly known, served with the 43rd Mississippi Infantry during the United States Civil War. The dromedary remained the soldiers’ beloved mascot for many years, and he helped out by carrying their gear. Although the soldiers allowed him to roam freely, Douglas never wandered far.

Sadly, a Yankee sniper shot and killed Douglas during the lengthy seige of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Poor Douglas! For more about this kindly camel, visit: Douglas the Camel on Find-a-Grave.

Most military markers include a symbol above the soldier’s name to represent his or her religious faith. It’s common, then, to see either a cross or a Star of David at the top of a military marker. To see a full list of available “Emblems of Belief” as the military calls them check out this link: US Dept of Veteran Affairs: Emblems of Belief

Did you notice that the US military now offers the “Hammer of Thor” as a religious icon? (It’s item #55, in case you missed it!) And yes, the Hammer of Thor is for those who identify as Odinists to use (and, perhaps, those who spend all their free time at the comic book store!)

Thor’s Hammer has only been approved for use on military headstones since 2013. For the full story, check out: A Modern Pagan Perspective: Thor’s Hammer

I was also surprised to see that they have a nifty symbol for atheists to use (item #16.)

How to comment: Please comment about this post on Tui Snider’s Facebook. Leave your link in the comments, and I’ll drop by your blog, too. You can also tweet me at @TuiSnider. (My blog comments are broken, but I’m trying to get that fixed. *sigh*)

What is the April A to Z Blog Challenge?

Each April, people from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then use the blog hop linky to visit as many other bloggers as you can.

Visit other A to Z bloggers:

Find out more about the April A to Z blog challenge, and check out the other participants!


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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in quirky, haunted, and downright bizarre destinations. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider's writing and photography have been featured in a variety of publications, including Coast to Coast AM, FOX Travel News, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and more. Snider’s award-winning books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, and Unexpected Texas. Snider has several more books in progress, including a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols and a book about the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897. Tui has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. She enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website:
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Published inHistoric Cemeteries


  1. I went to the Veterans Affairs page and one of the symbols is “not shown due to copyrights”.

    What? Well, they should look for a PD or CC version, then!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Mark, Yeah, doesn’t sound like they were trying too hard! :/

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