HARWOOD, ND — Efforts are underway to secure upgrades to Fargo National Cemetery and as part of that, Sen. John Hoeven, RN.D., this week hosted Matthew Quinn, Undersecretary for National Affairs Veterans Affairs Memorial, who visited the Fargo Cemetery with the Senator.
Among the cemetery improvements that Hoeven and others would like to see happen are walls that would protect visitors from the wind, which Quinn got a taste of as he strolled the cemetery grounds on Tuesday. November 23.
In addition to wind barriers, Hoeven said adding features such as restrooms, an assembly area and an expanded parking lot would also help make Fargo National Cemetery, located near Harwood, a burial ground. premier for veterans and their loved ones, adding that the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan could serve as a model for what Fargo Cemetery could be.
“That’s the kind of facility we want here,” Hoeven told Quinn, who sat down with local veterans advocates at the North Dakota National Guard Armory in northern Washington. Fargo.
As a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure funding for the National Cemetery Administration and its Rural Initiative, under which Fargo National Cemetery was established in 2019.
Hoeven said he’s been pushing for improvements at Fargo National Cemetery and also helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would make burial eligible in state veterans’ cemeteries, like Mandan’s. , members of the National Guard and 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 military personnel who meet national eligibility standards are permitted to be buried there, a situation that has led to uncertainty as to whether the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery may qualify. for some grants.
In the approximately two years of operation, Fargo National Cemetery has hosted the burials of nearly 500 veterans and their loved ones. The cemetery’s nearly five acres have a capacity to accept about 3,600 sets of remains, and officials said the cemetery holds about 250 burials a year.
The future of the cemetery was discussed at length during the gathering at the National Guard Armory in Fargo, including comments from Jake and Barbara Gust, whose family sold land to the VA for Fargo National Cemetery.
The Gusts said they have been approached by parties wanting to purchase land from them and the couple would like to know if the VA would like to acquire additional land for the cemetery.
“Barbara and I want this to be a first-class cemetery,” Jake Gust said.
To which Barbara Gust added: “Right now we need help making a decision about the land. We just want to do the right thing.”
“Let’s work on this together,” said Quinn, who also heard from Jason Hicks, commander of the United Patriotic Corps of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead.
Hicks described plans for volunteers to purchase land near Fargo National Cemetery to build a chapel and indoor restrooms for people visiting the cemetery.
He said such niceties would also be appreciated by members of the honor guard who sometimes participate in ceremonies on days when the weather is not nice.
Hoeven said recently passed legislation requires the National Cemetery Administration to review the infrastructure needs of cemeteries like Fargo. He said the legislation also encourages the agency to partner with state, local or private organizations to improve cemetery operations.