Biloxi National Cemetery Expanding - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/10/03

Biloxi National Cemetery Expanding

An estimated 1,800 veterans die in America each day. Many are buried in national cemeteries across the country.

To help meet the growing need for burial space, Biloxi National Cemetery is about to finish a twelve acre expansion project.

Right now there are some 750 burials at the national cemetery each year. That includes not only veterans, but also their spouses and dependent children. The expansion project should meet the needs of Biloxi National Cemetery for the next ten to twelve years.

"We have approximately 13,500 buried here. The oldest grave is from March of 1934, a Mr. Ross was the first gentleman buried here," said cemetery director, Amanda Rhodes.

A visit to Biloxi National Cemetery is a military history lesson. Stories behind the stones could fill volumes. A Medal of Honor recipient is laid to rest in Section 12. Service members who helped usher in the nuclear age are recognized by a marker near the office.

"Most people really like the upright head stones. Now we do have quite a few flat marble and granite head stones. But most of the upright marble stones are the ones everyone is so impressed with," Rhodes explained.

Lone soldiers are laid to rest, along with entire families.

"Veterans and spouses and their dependent children are eligible for burial here," said Rhodes.

The 54 acre facility is expanding to meet the increasing need for space.

"Our expansion started in November of 2002 actually. And it should be finished by the end of this month. We are looking forward to the completion of it. It will add approximately five thousand grave sites," she said.

Visitors are impressed by the dignified look: simple stones lined in rows beneath majestic live oaks. Cemetery employees maintain the appearance.

"I have ten individuals who work for me. They are very dedicated to the job. Most of them are veterans. And as you can see here, it's a beautiful, beautiful place," said the director.

Technology helps visitors locate grave sites here. There's a "touch screen" outside the office that allows you to type in a person's name and receive a printed map with the grave location.

by Steve Phillips

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