Land where soldiers once trained for war is now a final resting place for those who served. The Central Coast Veterans Cemetery on the former Fort Ord opened Tuesday with a dedication ceremony.
An audience of local dignitaries, veterans and their families looked on as a lone trumpeter played taps. The family of Major William Williams placed two boxes into a columbarium at the new Central Coast Veterans Cemetery. They carried the cremated remains the Major and his wife Anna Maria.
Their ashes are the first to be interred in this seventeen acre complex on the former Fort Ord where Major Williams served.
In the audience, Navy Veteran Mary Estrada said this cemetery provides an opportunity for veterans like her to be buried close to home.
“This is our home and it would be nice to be laid to rest here, so that our daughter can visit us here and not somewhere where we never lived,” said Estrada.
This is an opportunity local veterans have been waiting for since Fort Ord closed more than twenty years ago.
This first phase of the project includes the columbarium with 5000 niches for ashes. The second phase of the cemetery will add in ground burial plots on another sixty acres of land.
State Senator Bill Monning helped secure some of the money needed to build this cemetery. He says when complete it will be the final resting place for 70,000 veterans and their families.
“I think it is important to point out that it is intended to serve from San Luis Obispo County, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. It’s not just for Monterey. We have about 100,000 veterans in that broader Monterey Bay region,” said Monning.
Nearly 1000 veterans have already been approved for burial here. The initial work on the second phase will begin soon.