Paul Martin

Director of Chattanooga National, Nashville National and Knoxville National Cemeteries

Street Talk

What does your job entail?

I oversee the entire operations of all three cemeteries, and that includes the administration, budget, personnel and grounds.

Your job isn't exactly something someone dreams about. How did you land it?

Initially I started working with the VA (Veteran's Administration) medical center in Lebanon, Pa. There was a new cemetery, Indian Town Gap Cemetery, that opened up and I applied for a job. I got the Cemetery Representative job and sort of worked my way up to the director position from there. It was kind of one of those things that you're fortunate enough to get into. Like you said, it's not one of those things that someone pursues.

How long have you been here?

I've been here for two years. I've been with the NCA (National Cemetery Association) for almost 22 years, but I've been working for the Veteran's Administration for 30 years. The NCA is under the VA.

I heard a story that Knoxville National Cemetery was the first to put flags on the graves. Is there any truth to that?

Not that I know of. The only time we have flags on the gravesites is Memorial Day. We usually have the scouts come out, like they will this Saturday, and put all the flags out in Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga.  

Any interesting stories?

A lot of things happen in the cemetery, a lot of little moments. We have interred someone and the sister of the deceased had come up to one of my workers and gave him a great big hug, and said, â“Thank you very much.â” Those kinds of things happen quite often, it's just something we don't talk about.

 

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