History of the Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery Foundation, Marana
I am pleased as I can be, to honor so many veterans, and friends in the dedication of the first Veterans Cemetery in the Tucson Metropolitan Area. That’s right, the very first ever, for the 130,000 veterans who live in our community.
Back on November 7th, 2007, I started researching why we didn’t have a much-needed cemetery. Our Veterans Cemeteries must be 75 miles apart, by law, and part of Tucson was being serviced by Sierra Vista’s Veterans Cemetery. That’s a long way from the Tucson Area and the rest of the city of Tucson was still without a cemetery for our Veterans.
After much bureaucratic red tape, roadblocks, detours and “No you can’t do that," it appeared like there was no solution to dilemma and no Government, grant for construction either. If you draw a circle 75 miles in diameter around the Phoenix Federal VA Cemetery and the State Veterans Cemetery at Sierra Vista, it leaves land space for our final resting place right here in Marana.
However, you must have the title to the property to even get started with construction. We were fortunate that the Kai Family Foundation from the town of Marana graciously donated the land needed along I-10. The Kai family transferred the title to the Arizona Department of Veterans Services with one stipulation, or no deal. This property was to be used for a Veterans Cemetery only. Hallelujah. Now with the land, the Federal Veterans Administration granted us $7.6 million to build our cemetery, this beautiful 42 acres where we are located right now. After 8 years, 4 months and 21 days, we are proud to have our much needed resting place become a reality for our veterans. We were blessed to have the good Lord right with us all during this effort.
You know we have many veterans buried in England, France, Korea, Vietnam, and other places around the world. That’s not Home. It is rare for any member of the family, to ever have the opportunity, to visit any one of their fallen veterans in this situation. For that reason, it is so important to have this cemetery right here at HOME, so that our families, friends, veterans and the community can visit with us in this beautiful place where we will, forever, be at home. Our goal, as veterans, is not only to have a fitting place of rest, but to maintain it’s beauty forever with God’s help. We will never forget our comrades who fought side by side, to allow us the freedom to be together for all time.
I want to thank the many who have assisted in this journey, thus far. So let’s keep that spirit, that has brought our community together, moving forward for the many veterans who will always be at home right here. Frank Sinatra made famous the song “The Impossible Dream”. Today we have changed that tune, to the possible dream, our reachable star, our Veterans’ Cemetery. Thank you all for being part of our dream.