Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves in partnership with U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Parkers Crossroads Mayor Kenneth Kizer, Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes and the Friends of the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads dedicated the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads on Tuesday.
“It took several federal, state and local partners to make this vision a reality for Tennessee’s veterans, but it is rewarding to see this breathtaking facility opened,” Governor Haslam said. “There is no way to repay the debt of gratitude we have for those who served, however, this cemetery does offer a tangible place of reverence.”
The 132-acre cemetery is located at 693 Wildersville Road and will serve more than 45,000 veterans and their families within 17 counties in west Tennessee. The cemetery opened on July 6, and burials began on July 9.
“This celebration is a perfect way to start a new chapter for the Department as we continue to increase our focus on why we do what we do,” Commissioner Grinder said. “Our why is wrapped in unrelenting desire to be a pristine final resting place for heroes, gripped by compassion for grieving families and committed to selflessness as we remember what we do is about excellence that can be built on for years to come.”
There are currently two state veterans cemeteries in Knoxville, one in Nashville and one in Memphis. Additionally, there are national cemeteries in Knoxville, Mountain Home, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis. In 2011, the Department determined a portion of veterans living between Nashville and Memphis and Knoxville and Nashville did not have access to a veterans cemetery within a 75 mile radius of their communities and families.
The National Cemetery Administration awarded $5,754,802.00 in federal funding for the construction of the cemetery, which started in 2016.
“Our state and tribal partners are critical in helping the National Cemetery Administration achieve its strategic goal of providing 95 percent of the Veteran population with convenient access to a burial option within 75 miles of their home,” Mr. Reeves said. “We will continue to work with and support states like Tennessee to provide grants which reflect the needs, resources and preferences of the local veteran community.”
“It's an honor to partake in the dedication of Tennessee's fifth State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads,” Ms. Blackburn said. “There is nothing more important than fulfilling our commitment to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the honor and respect they deserve for their sacrifice to our country. Tennessee veterans and their families deserve the best, and this field of honor provides a final resting place that reflects our respect and admiration of their service to our country, state, and communities. I want to thank Tennessee Veterans Services Commissioner Grinder and all those involved in the selection and construction process. Parkers Crossroads is treasured for its deep military history going back to the Civil War, and I can think of no better place to pay our respects to the men and women who have borne the battle.”
“I knew this area would serve as a perfect home for the state’s newest cemetery, not only because of the rich military history, but because of the close knit community,” Rep. McDaniel said. “Driving down the interstate and seeing this field of honor brings a sense of patriotism to my heart and mind that makes me think of the brave men and women who have served our country for centuries.”
“The Tennessee Department of Veterans Services has grown in function, vision and direction under the leadership of Commissioner Grinder,” Ms. Gresham said. “As a retired veteran it is exciting to think about the trail she has blazed with the customer service improvements in cemeteries, claims, education and state veterans homes.”
To pre-register for burial at the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads or find out more about State Veterans Cemeteries visit tn.gov/veteran.