Cape Canaveral National Cemetery could open in December
by R Norman Moody in Florida Today June 18th 2015
Burials in the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery could begin in December.
While that date could be off by a month or two, construction of the long-awaited VA cemetery just north of Mims is moving at a fast pace.
Cemetery director Don Murphy said construction is moving at a pace that it is possible that the first burial could take place there by the end of the year.
"We plan on opening the scheduling process in about a month or so," he said. "It's one thing to hear about it coming, but it is another to look out the window and see it. A lot of families are going to be pleased."
Murphy was in the process of setting up his temporary office in a trailer near the entrance to the cemetery site.
When it opens in a few months, the initial phase will provide about 19,000 grave sites and accommodate both casket and cremation urn interments. The 318-acre cemetery is expected to serve the burial needs of Central Florida veterans for the next 100 years.
The cemetery will include a public information center with electronic grave-site locator, restrooms, an administration building, a maintenance building, an open assembly area with flagpoles, a memorial wall and walkway, and shelters for interment services away from the grave site.
"It's been a story long in the rumor stage," said Donn Weaver, chairman of the Brevard Veterans Council, a coalition of about 70 veterans' organizations in Brevard County. "There is great interest in this. It's going to be a very, very important thing."
Weaver said the Brevard Veterans Center has received inquiries about the cemetery. Families of veterans have cremation urns they want interred in the closest national cemetery.
"It's a welcome thing for many veterans in the area," Weaver said.
Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, about 120 miles from Melbourne, is the closest national cemetery to Brevard.
The Department of Veterans Affairs purchased the land for the cemetery in July 2012 for $2.1 million. It is about two miles south of Interstate 95's Exit 231. The front entrance will be on U.S. 1.
There were delays in getting started with construction after a protest of the awarding of the contract. Then, 55 gopher tortoises had to be removed from the site and relocated.
Murphy said there is a lot of work being done at the front of the property and at the entrance gate.
He said he will seek out more veterans' groups in coming weeks to give them updates on the construction.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active-duty service requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Their spouse, widow or widower, minor children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, also may be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the veteran.
Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
Burial in a VA national cemetery is a benefit. VA provides the grave site, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care of the grave site at no cost to the family.
"A lot of families are going to be pleased," Murphy said. "They'll be proud of this facility. It's going to be beautiful."
At a glance
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery
5525 U.S. 1, Mims
Note: The listed telephone will be operational beginning Monday.
By the Numbers
19,000 / number of grave sites in the initial phase
163,000 / number of grave sites over 100 years.
318 / number of acres