BUHL — Today marked a momentous occasion for the Magic Valley and the state of Idaho. The National Cemetery Administration dedicated the state's first-ever national veterans cemetery in Buhl. A small ceremony was held at the Snake River Canyon National Cemetery.
However, despite the small crowd due to COVID-19, it did not take away for what it means for the area. Mainly because it serves the administration's goal in ensuring no veteran is forgotten.
The first phase of the eight-acre construction site started in 2017 and cost four million dollars. Now that the first stage has ended, the cemetery will provide 900 hundred casket and cremation spaces to accommodate burials. Over the next ten years, it is expected the cemetery will serve a population of 15,000 veterans, their family souses, and eligible family members.
"We are truly fulfilling the promise that we have to our veterans and their families. As I said before, fulfilling that promise to make sure that we care for them provides the honored place of rest that they deserve," said Randy Reeves, The Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.
The National Cemetery Administration has a goal to bring a national cemetery to every state. The reason why Buhl is the choice for the site is that it also falls under the administration's rural initiative. The initiative is to provide more secluded areas, which don't have access to a proper burial site for veterans within 75 miles of their town, will now be able to do so. A survey taken had shown that this area has a high veteran population, and the closest option was in Boise. This cemetery is only the third to open under this program with more planned to open across the county this year.
County Commissioner Don Hall said, "To have this move into this area and further enhance the efforts that we're all trying to make in honoring and servicing and taking care of our veterans was just the icing on the cake."
While the public was not there to witness the dedication, those who attended are hopeful it will serve as a benchmark to help educate residents now and into the future.
"Understanding the sacrifice and those that have served us in wartime and peacetime. It serves as a memory and learning device to not make some of the mistakes we've made in the past and to again honor our military, who are the reason we have our freedom in our country," said Hall.