Thursday, January 12, 2006
Veterans Cemetery Meeting
Activists, military veterans and elected officials have for years been trying to have a military cemetery built on the former Fort Ord. But nothing has ever come of it. At least not yet.
On Jan. 12, from 1-4pm, at CSU-Monterey Bay, the state’s Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold an information hearing on the progress of the proposed cemetery, tentatively called the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery. The meeting is being held at the request of state Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Merced), who served in combat operations with the Air Force in both Iraq and Somalia.
Denham and other officials like state Assemblyman Simón Salinas and US Rep. Sam Farr are spearheading legislation that would pay for a 157-acre cemetery with room for 11,500 gravesites near an existing cemetery at Santa Nella, on the former Fort Ord.
“We must honor these individuals who paid the ultimate price for freedom,” Denham says. “And we must give them and their families a burial place of honor, close to home.”
The 157 acres now being studied for a cemetery is land that was donated by Seaside and Marina after they received it from the Army when it shut down Fort Ord in the early 1990s. Currently, more than 80,000 military veterans—more than one-third of who are over the age of 65—live in the geographic area surrounding the proposed site.
Donna Teresa of the Monterey County Veterans History Project is running an online petition for the cemetery at www.petitiononline.com/ftord104/petition.html.
“The spring of 2006 is going to be crucial for movement to happen on pending and new bills [related to the cemetery],” Teresa says. “Our veterans seem to be quickly forgotten when they return home from war and it is a constant struggle for them to get respect. They don’t ask for much and it is a disgrace that our state officials will not pay for the maintenance of the cemetery and let our veterans be buried withdignity.”
California is now home to more than 3 million veterans, the largest concentration in the US. However, of the six veterans’ cemeteries in the state, four of them have no room for new burials.
The hearing will be held in the Alumni and Visitor’s Center at 100 Campus Center, Building 97, CSUMB. [RV]