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At West Point cemetery, preparations begin to expand hallowed military grounds

  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Honor Guard members fold a flag during a burial service at the West Point Cemetery on Friday, March 22, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. The service was for Maj. Gen. Robert Strong and wife Virginia Strong. Graves of soldiers from every U.S. war make this small plot of the land the most hallowed ground on the nation's the most venerable military academy. And after 196 years and more than 8,000 souls, it's close to full. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)The Associated Press

  • The U.S. Military Academy Band performs during a burial service at the West Point Cemetery on Friday, March 22, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. The service was for Maj. Gen. Robert Strong and wife Virginia Strong. Graves of soldiers from every U.S. war make this small plot of the land the most hallowed ground on the nation's the most venerable military academy. And after 196 years and more than 8,000 souls, it's close to full. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)The Associated Press

  • Maj. Gen. George Custer's grave is seen at the West Point Cemetery on Friday, March 22, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. Graves of soldiers from every U.S. war make this small plot of the land the most hallowed ground on the nation's the most venerable military academy. And after 196 years and more than 8,000 souls, it's close to full. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)The Associated Press

  • U.S. Military Academy Band members are reflected in a mace during a burial ceremony at West Point Cemetery on Friday, March 22, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. The service was for Maj. Gen. Robert Strong and wife Virginia Strong.Graves of soldiers from every U.S. war make this small plot of the land the most hallowed ground on the nation's the most venerable military academy. And after 196 years and more than 8,000 souls, it's close to full. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)The Associated Press

  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Base Honor Guard members fold a flag during a burial service at the West Point Cemetery on Friday, March 22, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. The service was for Maj. Gen. Robert Strong and wife Virginia Strong. Graves of soldiers from every U.S. war make this small plot of the land the most hallowed ground on the nation's the most venerable military academy. And after 196 years and more than 8,000 souls, it's close to full. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)The Associated Press

The West Point Cemetery has taken in graduates of the Long Gray Line from the age of the cavalry charge to the dawn of drone strikes. Headstones etched with names like Custer and Westmoreland stand near plots with freshly turned earth.

And after almost two centuries, the 12-acre cemetery is close to full.

The U.S. Military Academy and its graduates are taking steps to make more room at the cemetery with new niches for cremated remains and an eventual expansion of the burial grounds.

The work will update a resting place for more than 8,000 people that is the most hallowed ground at the nation's the most venerable military academy.

Work on a double-sided wall with niches for remains will begin this year.