According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, these are the sanctioned emblems for “placement on government headstones and markers.” I found a reference to the image above on a law/politics blog I read occassionally; there’s apparently a debate over the lack of a symbol for pagans, and a lawsuit is moving forward. I was more intrigued by the emblems themselves, not being familiar with a large number of them.
There’s something sort of elegant about each of these, but it seems surreal that there is a regulated system by which they’re assigned. “You died? You were a member of the Izumo Taishakyo Mission Of Hawaii faith-group? Here’s the emblem for your headstone. Next.”
I will avoid making a libertarian rant about how unfortunate it would be for any group unable to get an appropriate icon of their faith onto this “approved emblem” list. Instead, I’ll simply observe that applying a rigid system of decoration to memorials seems like the sine qua non of weird design considerations. I’m curious as to the history of this list, because it seems to be an odd artifact of top-down taxonomic/iconographic thinking by my own goverment.
Some cursory exploration on the pagan emblem issue has lead me here. I’ll post anything I find regarding the history of the list itself.