SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WALA) - After two years of preparation, officials with the Spanish Fort Veteran Cemetery said the cemetery is ready for its first burial.
Family members said 81-year-old Veteran Leo Carpenter burial will be Friday, April 20.
"When he was in the Navy, he was off the coast of Trinidad, and he wouldn't talk much about much about his military career to me. He told me there were things that I didn't need to know or hear that he had seen," said William Carpenter, Leo's son.
William said his father suffered a heart attack and died Saturday, April 13.
When William began making arrangements for his father, he said he thought he may have to be buried in Biloxi's national cemetery. He said, however, he discovered his father could be buried closer to home.
"Well, thank you, Lord. He, the gentleman, called us back. And he's like, ‘We just got off the conference call, and we would be honored to be able to open it and have your dad as the first one into the new cemetery,'" said William.
Carpenter said he is honored to be able to honor his dad.
It's been nearly 50 years since south Alabama had a veterans' cemetery with room to bury its own service men and women.
"Officials tell it will take about 100 hundred years for this cemetery to reach its capacity. And when that happens, they will find more land to expand on," he said.
The cemetery is a sacred place for our hometown heroes, and William is grateful for his father's final resting place.
"He just... he would be honored. He would be honored knowing that he's the first one going in," William said.
To be eligible for burial at the Spanish Fort Cemetery, you have to sign up in advance.
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