Grand Island Veterans Cemetery breaks ground
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Nebraska Veterans will now have a resting place.
The groundbreaking ceremony for a new veterans cemetery in Grand Island drew politicians and community alike. Officials say it was an effort of many.
Sen. Ray Aguilar introduced the bill that allows the Nebraska Legislature to appropriate funds from the general fund to the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The department received nearly $8.4 million for the construction and renovations of the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery.
Veterans Service Officer Don Schuda said it’s been a long time coming.
“Oh excited, we’ve been excited for the last week knowing this day was coming and as you can see by the crowd they’re out here appreciating this. Its a benefit to the entire state of Nebraska so it’s a great day,“ said Schuda.
Right now, families of area veterans have to drive more than two hours one way to bury their loved one in an official veterans cemetery. The new cemetery will provide an option near where they live.
The Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Grand Island will be the second state administered veterans cemetery and the fourth veterans cemetery in Nebraska.
Gov. Jim Pillen stressed the importance of such an accomplishment not only for the city but also for the state. He said it’s essential for veterans to have a place like this.
“Today, is a warm your heart, goosebump moment day," said Pillen. "So important that we Nebraskans take time to say 'thank you' to all of our veterans for their incredible sacrifice; and that we take steps further, making this investment so that all veterans have an extraordinary place of honor.”
The cemetery’s service area spans a 75 mile radius from Grand Island, but will accept veterans from across Nebraska and the nation.
“Providing them an eternal resting place in this hallowed ground. It's just such an honor to be a small part of that,” said Schuda.
The cemetery will incorporate the existing seven-acre historic Grand Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery and expand the total area to 27-acres.
The cemetery will feature an administrative and maintenance building, committal service shelter, a memorial wall and walk and more.
Construction is set to start next week with plans to open in the spring of 2025.