The Oklahoman: Federal grant to fund veterans cemetery in Ardmore
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
The state of Oklahoma has won a $7.3 million grant to build a veterans cemetery in Ardmore that can provide service for about 25,571 veterans and their eligible family members.
“The brave men and women who have defended our country deserve the utmost respect, and I am proud that Ardmore will soon serve as the final resting place for our veteran heroes,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who credited Ardmore and state officials for helping to secure the grant.
The money will come from the National Cemetery Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but the cemetery will be part of the Oklahoma Veterans Department. There are two national veterans cemeteries in Oklahoma, in Fort Sill and Fort Gibson. There are also state veterans cemeteries in Oklahoma City, Ponca City and Seminole, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Last year, the federal department cleared the first phase of a Cherokee Nation Veterans Cemetery.
Ardmore, a city of 25,000 about 90 miles south of Oklahoma City, is also home to a state veterans center.
“The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs prides itself in providing every service we can to our nation's heroes,” said Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director of Homes Shawn Kirkland.
“The construction of this cemetery is another way for us to honor these Veterans and their service to our great country. We look forward to being able to provide a final resting place that represents the sacrifice these soldiers made and honor the public service of these great Veterans.”
The grant will pay for 1,104 pre-placed crypts, 434 cremains gravesites, 600 niches for cremation urns, a main entrance, an administration building, a maintenance facility, roads, landscaping and supporting infrastructure on approximately 12 acres of land, according to the National Cemetery Administration.
“It's an honor to partner with the Oklahoma to provide the Veterans in the Ardmore area a final resting place that is befitting their service and sacrifice," U.S. Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves said. "The Veterans Cemetery Grant Program is one of the finest examples of federal-state partnership in existence, delivering service to our veterans and value the American taxpayer."
The state did not provide a timetable for construction.
Ardmore City Manager J.D. Spohn said, “As a Marine Corps veteran myself, I take great pride in working with federal, state and local officials to help make this project a reality. The city appreciates the efforts of the elected officials and citizen groups working together for several years to get to this day.”
U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, both Republicans, applauded the grant.
“The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs has worked for years to bring this final resting place to Oklahoma veterans and their eligible family members,” Lankford said. “I am grateful for ODVA’s dedication to this task so we can continue to honor our fallen heroes with a local final resting place.”
Online: The Oklahoman