New Veterans Cemetery Land Signed Over to State

Posted at: 10/15/2013 6:35 PM
Updated at: 10/16/2013 9:09 AM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The land for the state's newest veterans cemetery was officially signed over from Fillmore County to the state Tuesday. That means, local veterans wanting to be buried in a state or national cemetery, no longer have to choose a cemetery located over a hundred miles away.

For Larry Niemeyer it was an emotional moment. Because now, the Vietnam Veteran from Spring Valley, knows where he'll be buried. 

"Before this had come forward,  I thought about Fort Snelling up in Minneapolis because it was the closest, but my thought was always well it's a long ways away for my family," said Niemeyer.

Larry and nearly 30 other veterans were at this ceremony in Preston Tuesday morning. All celebrating the fact that Fillmore County officially handed over the land for Minnesota's newest Veteran's Cemetery. 

When Army Veteran from Spring Valley, Steve O'Connor, was forced to think of his final resting place, the Fillmore County Veterans Cemetery was only an idea.

"I'm a very lucky man I was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, it looked bleak for a while, I said I would like this to be complete before I die because I want to be buried there," said O’Connor.

It's estimated that the 176 acres site will be the final resting place for more than 35,000 veterans. The site will also include a monument and a flag plaza.

As we've reported, the cemetery secured a $10 million federal grant earlier this year. The last step was to sign over the land that was donated by the county.

Allowing Steve, Larry, and rest to realize their final wishes are now possible. To be buried next to those they share so much with.

"You have a bond with those that gave what you gave, and the one thing being with veterans you don't have to explain anything to them because they've been there," said O'Connor.

"It's hard to explain, I think only a veteran knows," said Niemeyer.

Organizers hope to break ground on the cemetery before winter starts this year. The state will be in charge of paying for the upkeep and run of the cemetery once it is complete.