AUSTIN — Texas veterans turned the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor into a celebration Wednesday as hundreds gathered to dedicate the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery.
"We are here today to consecrate this land for our Texas veterans," said Jerry Patterson, chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board. "Today, this site becomes hallowed ground in honor of their sacrifices."
Veterans eligible for free burial in the newest Texas State Veterans Cemetery were joined by elected officials, community leaders and top military brass drawn together to praise the accomplishment. The keynote speaker was retired U.S. Army General Marc Cisneros, a true South Texas native son. Ram Chavez and the Corpus Christi Veterans Band provided inspiring patriotic melodies and a surprise flyover by Training Air Wing 4 out of NAS Corpus Christi thrilled attendees.
The Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery is the result of years of hard work and cooperation. It started as a 54-acre field donated by Flint Hills Resources. Over the last year the VLB transformed the field with an $8.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs into a veterans cemetery worthy of our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
Burial at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery is a privilege that can not be bought, only earned through service. Veterans and their immediate family are eligible.
The cemetery will be developed in phases and upon completion, will have more than 31,500 grave sites. The first phase of construction will create 4,808 grave sites. The grounds provide a committal shelter for services with full military honors. A memorial walkway will provide space for future memorials. A memorial wall will provide space to honor those whose remains are elsewhere. The spirit of service and patriotism lives everywhere at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery.
"Take pride in the ground you stand on today," Patterson said. "Your commitment to our veterans built these hallowed grounds into a resting place worthy of their sacrifice."
The dedication ceremony was webcast live by Flint Hills Resources, and can be seen at www.CoastalBendDedication.com.
To learn more about the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery, visit http://www.glo.texas.gov/vlb/veterans-benefits/veterans-cemeteries/corpus-cemetery.html.