The Tallahassee National Cemetery kicked off Memorial Day weekend with their “Groundbreaking Dedication” ceremony. Hundreds of people came to the cemetery on Apalachee Parkway for the ceremony.
Keynote speaker Robert McDonald, the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs, gave honor to those who served the country.
"Here, we dedicate a new place in their honor, a place to reflect our love, our honor, our devotion for their doing their duty."
Speakers included; the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, Michael Prendergast; Leon County Commissioner chairman, Mary Ann Lindley; the Tallahassee National Cemetery director Raymond Miller; three U.S state Representatives including D-FL Gwen Graham; and Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters.
Miller was elated about how much community support he has got from Tallahassee since he took on the cemetery.
“I am fortunate to thank everyone who made this possible,” Miller said. “I just want to acknowledge all of those who have donated to the National Cemetery to make sure we had the event we had here today.”
The national cemeteries were created in 1862 during the Civil War, as the nation needed somewhere to bury war victims.
The Tallahassee National Cemetery is the 132nd national cemetery and the eighth in Florida.
It will cover 250 acres between Apalachee Parkway and Old St. Augustine Road. Construction started back in October, and the first burials are expected in late summer or early fall.
The Tallahassee National Cemetery will have more than 6,000 spaces the first phase, but the cemetery is designated to accommodate more than 100,000 veterans for next 100 years.
The National Cemetery honors military veterans who served their assigned term of duty and were honorably discharged. Military veterans are eligible for both casket and cremation interments, as are their spouses and qualified dependent children.
Veterans are pleased to have a national cemetery in the capitol.
Joe West, a Vietnam Veteran in Tallahassee, expressed how happy and convenient the Tallahassee National Cemetery will be.
“I’m delighted to see the national cemetery come to Tallahassee,” West said. “People don’t have to travel three or four hours to see their loved ones anymore. It was a wonderful ceremony and I’m delighted to have been apart of it.”
June 1 will be the first day that The Tallahassee National Cemetery will begin accepting applications.