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Tallahassee To Dedicate Its National Cemetery

Tom Flanigan

This Friday, dedication ceremonies take place for the Tallahassee National Cemetery between Apalachee Parkway and Old Saint Augustine Road.  The facility has been designed to serve the needs of veterans and their families for the next hundred years.

Days before the ceremony, Cemetery Director Raymond Miller was giving a guided tour of the sprawling two-hundred-fifty acre site just past Mom and Dad’s Restaurant.  The journey - in a four-wheel drive truck – bounces over roughly graded dirt trails.  Almost as far as the eye can see, there are huge mounds of earth being pushed around by giant earth moving machines.

“They’re on schedule right now, so it’s going well.  But we’ve had great weather,” Miller remarked.

Congress gave the cemetery the go-ahead in 2010.  Two years later, the St. Joe Company sold the land to the Veterans Administration for six-million dollars.  Miller says locating Florida’s ninth national cemetery in Tallahassee is consistent with the area’s growing focus on veterans.

“You know, you’ve got the brand new clinic that’s expanding,” Miller explained.  “A new national cemetery is an indication of how many veterans are moving into this area.”

Besides the locals, Miller points out there are more than 83,000 veterans living within 75 miles of Tallahassee.  The property will be built out in phases.  Ultimately, the property will hold one-hundred-thirty-three thousand grave sites.  Miller pointed out the construction of the facility doesn’t involve only those who served in the military.

“It’s not just veterans.  You have friends of veterans, you have family members of veterans, I mean it’s everyone that has really been supportive of the national cemetery.”

That’s in addition to the significant role played by the cemetery’s neighbors.

“If you don’t know people in the community, I would say it would make this job too impossible if you don’t have the community involvement,” Miller said.

That community support will be abundant evidence on Friday, May 22.  That’s when the Tallahassee National Cemetery will be dedicated.  Miller predicted a heavy-duty guest list for the occasion.

“The secretary of the VA, you’ve got Congressman Miller, Congresswoman Graham, Congresswoman Brown, they’re going to be in here, plus the city, plus quite a few people from the (Florida) Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Miller expected a big crowd and there’s very limited parking on site.  So he was asking attendees to park in the Apalachee Parkway Walmart lot and shuttle buses will take them to and from the cemetery.  The dedication happens this Friday afternoon at one o’clock.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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