A Hallowed Place Awaits Departed Veterans at the Tallahassee National Cemetery
Cradle for The Fallen
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The Capital City is now home to a national cemetery, a hilly 250-acre plot of land a couple of miles east of town on Apalachee Parkway. The Tallahassee National Cemetery is the 133rd national veterans cemetery to be established and officially opened in October with ceremonial first burials.
“With the opening of this new national shrine, thousands of Florida veterans, their spouses and dependents will have interment options available nearby, in a setting that is worthy of their service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. “Providing lasting tributes to their sacrifices is one of VA’s most honorable missions, and one we are proud to fulfill.”
The new cemetery will serve the burial needs of some 83,000 veterans in this region and is expected to have a service life of more than 100 years. The initial phase of construction is planned to provide burial options for 10 years. The VA recently completed a 20-acre early burial area, which includes 3,000 gravesites for casket and cremain interments and temporary administrative and maintenance facilities. A second, larger construction phase is planned and will provide 7,720 full-casket gravesites when finished, including 3,600 pre-placed crypts, 2,200 in-ground cremation sites and 1,920 columbarium niches.
The move to establish national cemeteries began during the Civil War when United States President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation giving the president power to buy land to be used as national cemeteries. In 1862, the year the law passed, 14 national cemeteries were opened to bury soldiers killed during the war. In a dedication ceremony this past Memorial Day, McDonald said the new cemetery is a link to those original cemeteries, and the Tallahassee cemetery likewise will pay homage to men and women who so valued America that they risked their lives for the sake of generations unborn.
“Here we show our loyalty to ideals they fought and died for. Here we show we care about them, and that we will never forget the sacrifices they have made for us. Here, generations of families will visit and remember their loved ones,” he said. “Here we dedicate a new place in their honor, a place that reflects our gratitude, our love and our devotion for their having done their duty. A place where successive generations of veterans, separated by time, are reunited in veneration.”
The cemetery will include administration and maintenance buildings, a visitor’s center and a flag park.
Renderings Courtesy National Cemetery Administration Department of Veterans Affairs
The development of the Tallahassee National Cemetery was no small undertaking, but it went from being a dream in 2012 to accepting first burial applications this past June. The speed at which the project came to fruition was the product of intensive intergovernmental communication and cooperation, said Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Director Michael Prendergast.