Among the cemetery upgrades that Hoeven and others would like to see happen are walls that would shield visitors from the wind, something Quinn got a taste of as he walked the cemetery grounds on Tuesday. November 23.
In addition to the barriers against the wind, Hoeven said adding things like a toilet, meeting room, and expanded parking would also help make Fargo National Cemetery, located near Horace, a burial place for first order for veterans and their loved ones, adding that the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan could serve as a model for what Fargo Cemetery might be.
“These are the kinds of facilities we want here,” Hoeven told Quinn, who spoke with local veterans advocates from the North Dakota National Guard armory in northern Fargo.
Senator John Hoeven, left, tours Fargo National Cemetery on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, with Marty Fury, Acting Director of Fort Snelling National Cemetery, and Matthew Quinn, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Memorial Affairs . David Olson / The Forum
As a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Credit Committee, Hoeven worked to secure funding for the administration of the National Cemetery and its Rural Initiative, under which the Fargo National Cemetery was established. in 2019.
Hoeven said he was pushing for improvements at Fargo National Cemetery and also helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would make it eligible for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries, such as that of Mandan, members of the National Guard and the reserves, as long as their service has ended. under honorable conditions.
Currently, if a cemetery receives a federal grant, such as the State Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, only certain servicemen who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried there, a situation which has led to uncertainty as to which. whether the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery may be eligible. for some grants.
In the approximately two years that it has been in operation, Fargo National Cemetery has hosted the burials of nearly 500 veterans and their families. The nearly five-acre cemetery has a capacity to accept around 3,600 sets of remains, and officials said the cemetery hosts around 250 burials per year.
The future of the cemetery was discussed at length during the rally at the National Guard Armory in Fargo, including the contribution of Jake and Barbara Gust, whose family sold land to the VA for Fargo National Cemetery.
The Gusts said they have been approached by parties wishing to buy them land and the couple would like to know if the VA wants to acquire additional land for the cemetery.
âBarbara and I want this to be a first class cemetery,â said Jake Gust.
To which Barbara Gust added: “Right now we need help making the decision about the land. We just want to do the right thing.”
“Let’s work together on this,” said Quinn, who also heard from Jason Hicks, a commander of the United Patriotic Bodies of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead.
Hicks described plans for volunteers to purchase land near Fargo National Cemetery to build a chapel and indoor toilets for people visiting the cemetery.
He said such kindnesses would also be appreciated by members of the honor guard who sometimes participate in ceremonies held on days when the weather is not pleasant.
Hoeven said recently passed legislation requires the National Cemetery Administration to review the infrastructure needs at cemeteries like the one in Fargo. He said the legislation also encourages the agency to partner with state, local or private organizations to improve cemetery operations.