From "Gold Star Father":
The government marker (VA supplied) is (illegally) in my backyard bolted to a flat stone that I found and it lies under a Weeping Willow that friends of my wife gave to her. I make it a point to look at it nearly daily, christen it with splatterings of whatever cocktail I may have in hand, and have a conversation with my son. The marker is mine, its for me. My son's ashes were returned to the sea. The marker is my place to go. It's illegal that I have it, but I know/knew ways to make it happen to be in my possession. I defy the VA cemetery police to come and get it. There will be blood if they show up in my driveway.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.