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Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery - Duluth dedicated in moving ceremony

9/21/2019 10:00:00 AM

Duluth, Minn. – Minnesota’s third State Veterans Cemetery was dedicated today by national and state leaders in a moving and patriotic ceremony attended by several hundred Veterans, families, community members and Veteran supporters.

The first Veteran was laid to rest in Duluth's newly-opened State Veterans cemetery on Veterans Day, November 11, 2018. Since then, 176 Veterans and their eligible dependents have been interred at the cemetery. The cemetery will ultimately serve an estimated 32,000 Veterans who reside within 75 miles of the cemetery site.

“Here in Minnesota, we honor our Veterans,” said Governor Walz. “The addition of the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Duluth provides an option for Veterans and their families in Northeastern Minnesota to choose a final resting place closer to home.” 

The development of Minnesota’s third State Veterans Cemetery was supported by an important partnership with National Cemetery Administration and the Veterans Cemeteries Grants Program.

“Grants like this ensure continued accessibility to a local burial option for our Veterans across the Nation,” said the VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves. “I consider these grants to be one of the best examples of Federal-State partnership in the country today. Between federal, state, territorial and tribal Veterans cemeteries, today more than 92 percent of all Veterans have a burial option within 75 miles of their home. We maintain or increase that availability with every cemetery grant the VA provides.”

Planning for the Duluth-area cemetery began in 2007 in response to local advocates who wanted to offer a full military burial option closer to home. A formal grant pre-application requesting $8.35 million was submitted to the National Cemetery Administration in June 2008.

By 2016, with the support and funding from the National Cemetery Administration, MDVA acquired a suitable 104-acre property for the new cemetery located near Duluth, 14 miles northwest of town center on US Highway 53. The initial construction began in 2016 and developed approximately 19 acres that includes 850 pre-placed crypts, 407 traditional casketed burial spaces, 1,078 cremains gravesites and 720 columbarium niches. A main entrance, an administration building, a maintenance facility, roads, an assembly area, a committal shelter, preplaced crypts, columbaria, landscaping and supporting infrastructure were also included in the initial construction.

The new cemetery is designed to accommodate more than 32,000 gravesites when future phases are fully developed.

“The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is proud to dedicate our third State Veterans Cemetery here in Duluth today,” stated MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “As we continue to serve Minnesota’s 318,000 Veterans, we know that many Veterans and their families will choose this cemetery as their final resting place. They can be assured that this cemetery, like our other locations, will be recognized as a sacred shine that demonstrates dignity, respect and operational excellence.”

Today’s dedication ceremony also included flyover by the Commemorative Air Force, music by the 34th Infantry Division ”M-Saxteen” Saxophone Ensemble and the University of Minnesota - Duluth Choir and the Blue Star Memorial Dedication.

For more information on the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery – Duluth, contact Cemetery Administrator Cory Johnson at 218-520-0120 or cory.johnson@state.mn.us.

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About MDVA
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is a cabinet-level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing the five State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.

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