Wyoming opens national cemetery to honor veterans, families

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Officials have opened the first national cemetery in Wyoming, a place where veterans can be laid to rest alongside fellow service members and honored with their families for their sacrifices.

The Cheyenne National Cemetery is designed to serve more than 55,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible children who live within a 75-mile (120-kilometer) radius of Cheyenne, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

Previously, Wyoming was one of a handful of states that did not have its own national cemetery, and the closest place for veterans in Cheyenne to receive a military burial was in Fort Logan National Cemetery, 114 miles (185 kilometers) away in Colorado.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie spoke in honor of the state’s fallen heroes at a dedication ceremony Thursday for the new cemetery. He was joined by U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and Gov. Mark Gordon, both Republicans.

“Here, generations of this state will come visit and remember their loved ones,” Wilkie said. “Here, a dedicated place reflects our gratitude, love, our devotion to those who did their duty – a place where successive generations of veterans, separated by time, will be united forever.”

The cemetery was created as part of the Veteran Affairs National Cemetery Administration’s Rural Initiative, which aims to provide burial benefits to those in underserved areas.

The United States now has 151 national cemeteries in 44 states, where the department covers the gravesite, government headstone, U.S. burial flag and other costs.

Veterans who are buried at the cemetery will be sent off with a playing of Taps, a rifle detail, a color guard and uniformed service members who present the burial flag to fully honor their sacrifices, officials said.

“In the United States, we honor our veterans, we honor our servicemen, and we keep their memories alive, and this is the place where we’re going to do it here in Wyoming,” state Veterans Commission Chairman Travis Deti said.

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