Posted at: 09/26/2013 6:44 PM
By: Jenna Lohse
Preston Will be Home of New Veterans Cemetery
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a place that many have been asking for. A final resting place that local veterans can be buried with honor.
New funding means that veterans cemetery will soon become a reality. It will only be the second in the state.
"I’ve actually had conversations with my wife to be buried here, that's my wishes,” said Jason Marquardt, Fillmore County Veterans Service Officer.
Jason Marquardt is just one of more than 40,000 veterans who can now officially say they will be buried in the new state veterans cemetery off highway 52 in Preston.
"I applaud our government officials from everyone from the county to the federal level that has worked so hard to get this for us the veterans. It's a big honor to have here in Fillmore County,” said Marquardt.
Congressman Tim Walz was in Fillmore County a year ago, pushing for the new veterans cemetery, Now he's announced a ten million dollar grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs will cover all allowable costs.
"To get to this point, it’s amazing,” said Karen Brown, Fillmore County Coordinator.
A process that started in 2009 with the land being donated from residents and the county board, finally has the last piece of the puzzle - the money for construction.
"The next step will be some sort of ceremony here in Fillmore County to officially let the veterans of the county transfer this land to the state of Minnesota,” said Brown.
A rendering of the project has not been created yet. But the rolling hills will soon be transformed, featuring structures like an information center and a flag plaza for memorial services.
"It's not going to be the traditionally flat ground that you've seen in existing cemeteries this one is going to have topographical features to it and just it's going to be different,” said Marquardt.
With the only other state veterans cemetery 120 miles away, many veterans in Southern Minnesota find relief in their final resting place being close to home.
"This is where I say I’m from now and this is where I want to remain forever,” said Marquardt.
The Director of State Veterans Cemeteries says now that they have the money, they're working to secure a contractor. He hopes to break ground on the cemetery yet this fall.
Preston Representative Greg Davids says we will soon be able to pay our respects to the men and women who put their lives on hold to fight for our freedoms.