Alabama closer to having new place to honor veterans

Published 1:42 pm Friday, January 9, 2009

Passers-by have been curious about all of the activity, heavy equipment, crypts and culverts seen next to the American Village.

“We are basically on track and, weather permitting, we expect to open the cemetery in April of this year,” said Quincy Whitehead, director of the Alabama Veterans’ Cemetery in Montevallo.

Projections have been difficult because of the rain and accompanying mud. Whitehead explained that in this first phase of the cemetery, there will be 1,000 crypts installed and 1,000 spaces allotted for cremated remains. Some of the crypts are in place and the cremation section is finished. Estimates are for 970 burials during the first year of operations; the second year 1,100, and later phases are planned for 10–16 burials a day.

The cemetery employees are now working from an office in the Heritage Building on Middle Street, but in March or April, they will move to mobile units on site. Later there will be permanent buildings including a visitors’ center.

When asked exactly who can be buried there, Whitehead reported, “Most who have been in the service and have an honorable discharge. Spouses and eligible children may also be interned there. We do not take reservations; however, if a veteran or spouse has died and they are holding the remains for burial in this cemetery, we can take their information and put it on file.”

There will be no gift or flower shop on the grounds. A strict flower policy will be enforced: fresh flowers are allowed at any time, but artificial flowers are allowed only from Oct. 1–April 1.

There are opportunities for volunteers. Presently there is a cemetery support committee of volunteers who will help with special occasions such as the consecration rites planned for April 10 and the Memorial Day celebration. The consecration rites will involve as many religious denominations as possible. The Memorial Day program will be coordinated with the celebration at the American Village. When the visitors’ center is opened, the plan is for volunteers from the community to man that facility.

The director and staff are available to present programs for civic groups, clubs and schools. Information on programs or volunteering can be obtained at 665- 9039.

Catherine Legg can be reached at