For years, local officials have pushed for another Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. And now, one that's coming to Blackfoot is another step closer to completion.
Solemn gratitude may be the best way to describe the atmosphere at the groundbreaking ceremony for the site of the future Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.
Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll says, "And as has been said, we never want to forget their names. We do not want to forget their memories."
Veterans will be remembered in Blackfoot as it will be home to the state's second veterans cemetery. The Idaho Division of Veterans Services had many many options for future cemetery sites before choosing the city.
Idaho Division of Veterans Services Chief Administrator Marv Hagedorn says, "We really looked to see where there was a large population of underserved veterans and this general area, Blackfoot, was kind of the center of that underserved population."
The state currently only has one veterans cemetery. It's located in Boise. So, a large piece of land was needed to serve veteran families in this area.
Idaho State Hospital South donated a plot of land that is 40 acres in size. The initial phase of the cemetery will cover 10 acres. As the cemetery is used, it will expand throughout the entire plot. According to developers, the project (first phase) should be done by the winter of 2020.
The donated land, and a grant, helped get the project in motion.
Hagedorn says, "We're fortunate we received a 7.4 million-dollar grant to create the new cemetery, the second state cemetery, here in Blackfoot."
Creating a new state cemetery doesn't just happen overnight.
Carroll says, "A lot of work has gone into this for about the last three to five years."
While everyone involved in the project is excited to see its completion next year, they don't want the veterans to be in too much of a rush.
Hagedorn says,"Show of hands, veterans in the audience. How many? This is for you. Don't be in a hurry to get here, but this is what it's for."
There wasn't an official body count at the groundbreaking ceremony, but city officials estimate over 100 people were in attendance.