By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderOctober 31, 2008
Hundreds of dignitaries, veterans and members of the community came together Sunday for the dedication of the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. The 585-acre property on which the cemetery is being constructed is located off Percival Road and was donated by Fort Jackson.
"This is a momentous day as we dedicate this hallow ground to our nation's veterans," said Brig. Gen. Bradley W. May, Fort Jackson commanding general. "Today also represents an example of Fort Jackson's commitment to partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs to achieve a common goal: To serve and honor our nation's veterans."
Construction on the cemetery's 92-acre first phase began in July. When completed, the area will provide more than 6,700 gravesites and 2,000 columbarium niches, said Gene Linxwiler, Fort Jackson National Cemetery director. In addition, there will be an administration and public information center, public restrooms, a maintenance facility, a cemetery entrance area, committal shelters for funeral services and a flag assembly area. The first burials are planned to take place in December.
"This is a great day for South Carolina; it's a great day for our veterans," said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C. "I'm proud to have a small part in it. I'm glad to see this come to fruition."
William Tuerk, VA under secretary for memorial affairs, made reference to the long tradition of national cemeteries.
"Today, we give witness to a promise made and a commitment kept," Tuerk said. "It's a promise that was made at the height of the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln when he ordered national resting places be established to honor, as he said, 'the Soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country.' It is a promise that is being kept here today with the dedication of Fort Jackson National Cemetery. Here, we continue and extend the proud legacy established in 125 national cemeteries."
For information on who is eligible for burial in a national cemetery, visit www.cem.va.gov. To make burial arrangements, call (800) 535-1117.