Veterans Plan Expansion as National Cemetery Fills Up - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/08/06

Veterans Plan Expansion as National Cemetery Fills Up

The Beaufort National Cemetery. The Beaufort National Cemetery.

The Beaufort National Cemetery is running out of room. There might not be any plots left by the end of the year. But good news is on the way for the final resting ground for many of our nation's fallen heroes.

It dates back to the Civil War. "About 7500 Civil War soldiers were brought here to the cemetery, from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina," said cemetery director Walter Gray.

But now the cemetery has fewer than 250 plots left. "We estimate we'll be out of space by the end of the year," Gray told us.

But luckily, a few years ago a group of local veterans formed the Veterans Cemetery Committee of Beaufort and took it upon themselves to raise the money to purchase the old National Guard Armory land.

"Since we all wanted to reserve a spot here, we thought we ought to participate and be sure it stayed open," said Maj. Gen. Bill Cobb (ret.).

The Veterans Administration now has expansion plans in the works. In fact, the initial phase is expected to begin this spring and be ready by the end of the summer, which will add another 1,000 plots and will allow the cemetery to remain open.

By the end of the year, officials also expect the second phase to begin, which will expand the cemetery along the back wall and will give the cemetery another ten years.

As for what happens then, the local veterans' group does have more property that could get them through another 20 years, and they're even looking for more property to take them beyond that.

Although most are happy the cemetery will remain open, some have some concerns with the Veterans Administration's plans--which would damage a portion of the historic brick wall surrounding the cemetery--and with the fencing they're looking at installing on the new portion.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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