Arsenal cemetery to expand hallowed grounds, space for interments
By Staci-Jill Burnley, ASC Public Affairs
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Historic Rock Island Arsenal’s National Cemetery has broken ground and begun clearing land earmarked for an estimated $6.2 million dollar expansion project aimed at providing increased interment space for the area’s eligible veterans and family members.
This expansion will allow for an additional 5,836 gravesites on 9.12 acres, according to Lance Pridemore, RINC director.
“There will be 2,000 pre-placed crypts for casketed interments, 2,245 in-ground cremation plots, 1,500 columbarium niches and 91 memorial wall markers and will facilitate the cemetery being open for interments for another 15-18 years,” Pridemore said.
While space is not an immediate concern for RIA, the National Cemetery Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs leadership are continually tracking, projecting, and analyzing current data to continually research possible avenues of expansion, Pridemore said. If the space limitations are beyond expansion, the establishment of new national cemeteries is always a possibility for eligible veterans and their eligible family members to use their burial benefits.
“Available space is something that is tracked at all leadership levels and many avenues have been developed in order to meet our veterans and their eligible family member needs,” he said. “Some of the avenues are expansions like the one here at RINC, new national cemeteries being opened, like Western New York National Cemetery, and rural initiative cemeteries like Cheyenne National Cemetery.”
This is welcome news for those residents in the cities straddling the Mississippi River in Illinois and Iowa, known as the “Quad Cities.” Retired Army Col. Mike Peck, chairman of the Illinois Veterans Advisory Council, said the expansion will put a lot of minds at ease that eligible deceased will have a place of recognizing and honoring their military service.
“Expansion of the cemetery will ensure that our nation’s defenders and their families are recognized and comforted by the nation they defended,” Peck said. “A walk through a national cemetery is a walk through our country’s history – seeing the graves of veterans from the many conflicts and that their valor is preserved for our nation’s freedom.”
Peck believes interment in a national cemetery is comforting for the families left behind grieving the loss of their loved ones, and that is where the impact of these final places of rest truly lies.
“National cemeteries are really for the surviving families and friends,” he said. “They are comforted by the fact that their love one is surrounded by their comrades, and have the comfort that the burial they will receive will possess the dignity and solemnity that our nation’s heroes deserve.”
Pridemore said the expansion project will continue over the next several months and will include a variety of other repairs and upgrades outside of the land clearing. He asks that people coming onto the Arsenal and visiting the cemetery be patient as the construction continues, but stresses visitors are always welcome.
“Along with developing the acreage for burial space, there will be multiple other cemetery projects in progress during the same time period that includes road and storm drain repair, turf renovation projects, maintenance facility repairs and upgrades, administration building repairs, an upgrade to fiber optics, a raise and realign headstone project with turf renovation, and headstone cleaning,” Pridemore said.
With restrictions being lifted at RIA, there are no longer limits to participant group size in regards to committal services and ceremonies, and the cemetery is open daily from sunrise to sunset for anyone wishing to visit, Pridemore said.
RINC is conducting normal operations with scheduled calendared events and ceremonies open to the public, including The Korean War Armistice Day Ceremony on July 27, the Americal Division Monument Dedication Ceremony on September 8, and the Veteran’s Day Ceremony on November 11.
|Date Posted:||07.14.2021 13:31|
|Location:||ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, IL, US|
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