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GPS Technology Guiding Presidio Cemetery Facelift

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A child adjusts a flag on a grave at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A child adjusts a flag on a grave at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The Presidio Cemetery is the resting place for 30,000 Americans veterans and their families. Keeping the hallowed ground looking perfect has been anything but restful – but that is changing.

If you’ve ever walked through the military cemetery, you can’t help but be struck by how pristine everything is, how straight and aligned the headstones are. Up until now, individual attention had to be paid to each and every headstone. The VA has come up with a system that will make sure these headstones sit perfectly for years to come.

The process begins with the removal of the individually planted headstones and the creation of a massive concrete foundation built with pre-cast boxes, which secure the new markers.

Row-by-row, they pour in a concrete footing, they put in a box for each headstone, and when they drop the headstone in, then they pound in decomposed granite to the point where you can’t even move it. That’s where the attention to detail gets incredibly precise.

GPS equipment is used to set up a grid of strings so that every single stone is set in a perfect line, at the perfect angle and to a precise height.

“The headstone alignment is as close to perfect as possible in all directions,” said Mike Tyning of contractor Digital General Engineering.

Without concrete foundation, headstones can shift, lean or sink on a daily basis.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Tyning said. “There’s people buried back here from the Spanish American war, World War I, World War II, Korea, the Indian Wars. There’s Buffalo Soldiers here.”

The new system will hold their memorial stones in place for years and allow for easy replacement.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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