BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - Friday, December 7, 2012 was a historic day for the state of Alabama. The Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Spanish Fort was dedicated in front of a huge crowd. Alabama Veterans and their family members will now have the option of being laid to rest on Alabama soil.
It just doesn't get any better for Alabama's veterans. After decades of dreaming and more than three years of planning and building, the cemetery is now a reality. Veterans of all ages attended the ceremony and all had the same thoughts.
"It's good because a lot of men really don't have anywhere to go," said WWII veteran Alto Brill. "We need it. I'm really grateful for the effort we had to get it here."
"It's special…very special because so many fellows don't have nowhere to be buried," agreed another WWII veteran, Archie Robinson.
Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam veteran, Johnny Lee Jones added, "It's a great day for our state to have this to come to our state."
It has taken quite a team effort to bring the project to completion. It started with a dream of John Tyson Senior many years ago. Spanish Fort's Dr. Barry Booth took the ball and ran with it, getting the state legislative delegation behind the project and making his family's land available for the cemetery.
As proud a day as it must have been for Booth, his heart and thoughts were still focused on the veterans of our state.
"It's not the end because there will be continuing support, but all of the community looks forward to that also," Booth said. "This is just another page, but it's the continuing support of the cemetery and what it means to the veterans community and to their families."
For community leaders like County Commissioner Frank Burke, the events of the day left him at a loss for words.
"I can't express it," Burke said. "I really can't express how overjoyed I am and thankful that we were able to get this job done."
In phase one, the cemetery will be able to accommodate 2700 in-ground burial sites and that should last for 10 years. As new phases are brought in, the cemetery will continue to serve our country's heroes and their families for the next 100 years.
The Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Spanish Fort will officially open in January with burials expected to begin as early as March. Once at capacity, the cemetery will be able to hold 90,000 grave sites.
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