AMELIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – A more than $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be used to expand the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia to honor vets and their loved ones.
Construction starts next month on two areas in the cemetery that will be expanded to add 3,600 new burial crypts.
“What we’re doing today is significant,” said Glenn Powers, deputy under secretary for field programs for the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
Never forget their names — it’s the message behind this new addition coming soon to the Virginia Veterans Cemetery.
“It’s a resting place for veterans who’ve served our country so proudly and given us all the privileges and the rights that we have,” said Gov. Ralph Northam, one of the speakers at Thursday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony.
For those like Gov. Northam, a veteran himself, this expansion of almost four thousand new places of rest within the cemetery, he says, hits a soft place in his heart.
“My father was a veteran of World War II, my brother’s a veteran, I’m a veteran, and you don’t have to go very far,” he said. “One in twelve of us in Virginia are veterans.”
With more than 721,000 veterans in Virginia, the state’s Secretary of Defense and Veterans Affairs Carlos Hopkins says he’s seen how their team takes care of cemetery grounds like the ones in Amelia, and the other two veteran cemeteries across the Commonwealth.
“I’ve had the privilege in this position over the last several years to watch our incredible team, whether there was snow on the ground, whether there were floods, whether it was in the blazing heat, on their hands and knees around the headstones, making sure that they recognize the service and sacrifice that Virginia heroes have given,” Hopkins told the ceremony’s audience Thursday.
The Director of Cemetery Services for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services Michael Henshaw tells 8News the expansion should last 25 years at the current burial rate.
For now, Henshaw says a temporary chapel tent will be set up on cemetery grounds while the main chapel will remain closed until construction is completed around September.
VDVS also operates the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk and the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin.