by: Erica Bennett Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A final resting place for local veterans is growing at a fast pace. Now, leaders are thinking about the long haul.
Jacksonville National Cemetery is home to more than 7,000 graves. When service members go to rest there, they do so with high honors. Lately though, the process has become more frequent. The cemetery now averages more than 1,000 burials a year.
“We’re seeing more of the Korea and Vietnam (veterans) now because your Vietnam veterans are in their late 60s/early 70s,” cemetery Director Clifford Shields explained.
We went to out to the property to get a better feel for the growing pains. Currently, there's 91 acres of land developed with the burial split at 50-50, half casket, half cremation.
Lucille McCoy said she's noticed a veteran decline.
“I expect that and it's happening much faster than I thought it would,” she said.
Shields said they do have a plan for the long haul. When needed, they'll tap into nearby land.
“We have another 436 acres around us that can be built on. We own all the land across Lannie Road and land all the way and back down Lannie Road on this side,” Shields said.
McCoy, whose ex-husband served in the Korean War, says she's glad the community can enjoy this site for years to come.
“I see it has room to grow and I'm really happy about that,” she said with a smile.
The Sunshine State will soon get some burial help. National cemeteries will go up in both Tallahassee and in a town near Cape Canaveral in 2015.