Where Valor Sleeps
Arlington National Cemetery is considered America’s most hallowed ground. It is located on land that was once belonged to George Custis, adopted son of George Washington. Custis built a house where he kept many of Washington’s prized possessions. He left the property to his daughter. When she married a promising young West Point graduate named Robert E. Lee, the house became known as the Custis-Lee Mansion. It was their home until the outbreak of the Civil War.
The Federal government seized the land in 1862. On this date in 1864, Arlington was established as a National Cemetery for war dead. As the fighting raged, the dead were brought from the battlefields for burial at Arlington. Most were Union soldiers, but a few Confederates were buried there as well. Arlington now covers 612 acres. It is the final resting place for 250,000 veterans and their families, including two presidents, dozens of famous generals, and a few astronauts.
But Arlington is not big enough to accommodate all military burials. And some families want their loved ones closer to home. Consequently, there are 147 national cemeteries in the United States, reserved for veterans and their spouses. In addition, there are also state veterans’ cemeteries.
There are no national cemeteries in North Dakota, but there is a state cemetery. The North Dakota Veterans’ Cemetery was established by the Legislative Assembly in 1989, but the Legislature did not provide funding. The project was completed with the use of private donations, and the National Guard did most of the construction. It is located near Mandan in the southwest corner of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. The completed cemetery includes paved roads, a parking lot, and a meditation plaza. The first burials took place in 1992.
The cemetery at Mandan is dedicated to all the men and women who served our state and our country. It honors them by providing an appropriate location for their final resting place where they will always be honored and remembered. Like many other state cemeteries, North Dakota’s is reaching capacity, and there is a push for the federal government to approve new national sites. Representative Dina Titus of Nevada points out that all veterans are entitled to be buried with dignity and honor.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
National Guard. "http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/benefits/veteranscemetery/Pages/default.aspx" http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/benefits/veteranscemetery/Pages/default.aspx Accessed 8 May, 2015.