Mayors tour Alabama National Cemetery

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Alabama National Cemetery Director Quincy Whitehead invited the leaders of local cities and towns to the cemetery for an educational tour on Nov. 16.

Montevallo Mayor Ben McCrory welcomed Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Calera Mayor Jon Graham and Wilton Mayor Pro Tem Deborah Hudson.

McCrory said prior to construction, the 479 acres designated for the cemetery were “nothing but grass, trees and dirt,” but the creation of the cemetery “means a lot to our state.”

Bob Barefield, chairman for the committee of the Alabama National Cemetery, said the committee aids the cemetery staff and funds extra projects, such as the 37 flag poles on the avenue of flags in the center of the cemetery and benches.

To date, the cemetery staff has conducted about 1,200 burials at no cost to veterans’ families, Whitehead said. In addition to traditional burials, the cemetery also offers a columbarium for cremations, both in ground and above ground, as well as pre-placed crypts.

On the memorial walkway, organizations can donate monuments to recognize a particular group of veterans.

“I don’t want families to regret leaving their loved one here,” Whitehead said. “We’re trying to do what’s right. We want to make sure we are something you all can be proud of. It’s a national cemetery, but it’s Alabama’s National Cemetery.”