Final resting place

Governor calls state’s responsibility to maintain cemetery ‘sacred obligation’

<div class="Content"><p class="indent">The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs broke ground on its fifth and final veterans cemetery on Monday in Jennings. Located adjacent to the LDVA’s Southwest Louisiana Veterans Home, the cemetery will service 36,000 veterans from Allen, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Jeff Davis, St. Landry and Vernon Parish.

<p class="indent">Gov. John Bel Edwards, keynote speaker, said the cemetery is the “last of piece of the puzzle” to ensure that all of Louisiana’s veterans have a dignified final resting place. Louisiana was recently awarded a $7.3 million federal grant for phase of one of the 23.4-acre project and Edward’s called the state’s responsibility to operate and maintain the site a “sacred obligation.”

<p class="indent">“We must care for our veterans as if they were our own. We must make sure they’re taken care of even after their life here is done.” Edwards also noted that the location and affordability of the cemetery will serve as source of “comfort and relief” for a state whose veterans make up the largest population percentage on a per capita basis compared with the other 49 states.

<p class="indent">Retired Colonel James Jackson tearfully celebrated the Monday’s groundbreaking. “When we came home from Vietnam years ago, we were not treated very well. To finally see things like this coming to fruition — it makes us feel like we’re coming home.” Pointing to the SWLA Veterans Home near the groundbreaking he said, “People don’t die here, they graduate. And we’ll have that. It goes a long way towards the healing.”

<p class="indent">The completed project will include 1,777 gravesites as well as various supporting infrastructures including a memorial walk, maintenance facility and administration building. LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland said in a news release that the cemetery will begin burials late in fiscal year 2020.