What is a National Cemetery?


Sue and Kismet at the Alabama National Cemetery

The author and her Seeing Eye dog, Kismet, stand before the statue of Lady Liberty


“United States National Cemetery” is a designation for 147 nationally important cemeteries in the United States . . . The most well-known is Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

–From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United States National Cemetery.

That number now stands at 148. On Monday, February 17th, a new National Cemetery was dedicated in Montevallo, Alabama. The dedication was, in fact, for more than the cemetery. It was for the “National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor.”


The dedication ceremony was filled with inspiring music and inspiring words. There were over five hundred people in attendance. Veterans and active duty service members were asked to stand and be recognized. There were six individuals who had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They were asked to stand twice. The Battle of the Bulge took place from December of 1944 into January of 1945, almost 70 years ago. I realized that those six individuals who stood to be recognized were probably in their nineties.

Then the ceremony came to the part about a National Cemetery being “hallowed ground.” There were, of course, dignitaries involved in the whole thing, and it was they who brought forward the hallowed ground. With a wind ensemble and concert choir as the background, the dignitaries, one by one brought forth the hallowed ground retrieved from all over the world where American soldiers died in the cause of freedom. Each transmission of hallowed ground to its new home in Alabama’s heartland followed the same pattern, with the dignitaries intoning the words, “I am honored to present hallowed ground from Normandy . . . from Italy . . . from North Africa . . . from Afghanistan . . . from Vietnam . . . from Arlington . . . hallowed water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

As the music built and swelled, one by one, the hallowed ground was brought forward to become part of this new National Cemetery. I really had no idea what the dedication was going to be like before I arrived. And I had no idea how moving the whole thing was going to be.

I’m glad I was there. Hallowed ground.

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One Response to What is a National Cemetery?

  1. DP Lyons February 28, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    In honor of those who sacrificed so much, and for those who are still digging their heels in deep every day, I am glad you were there too.

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