MARANA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A new Veterans Cemetery opens in Marana Saturday. A large crowded gathered on the grounds for a dedication ceremony, officially opening the gates to our nation's heroes.
The new space off the Marana Road Exit will be the second state-regulated Veterans Cemetery, along with location in Sierra Vista.
The honored ground will make it easier for families to attend the ceremonies, and visit later.
"It means everything to some families," Wanda Wright explained. Wright is the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services. "We were just here the other day and we talked to a family who the spouse had lost her husband. It was so meaningful for her to have her husband be buried here, so close to where she lives so she can come visit him regularly."
For veterans, and their families, a funeral with military honors, in a Veterans Cemetery is part of a nation's thank you.
This ceremony is from an organization called the Missing in America Project, dedicated to a proper ceremony for veterans who may not have had a family to see to their burial.
Ed Torres, with the project, is concerned about all Veterans and their families.
He says for Tucson area families the Marana location makes it easier to visit loved ones at rest.
"There's an influx of a lot of Veterans here; and before the only place they could be buried at would either be in Phoenix or Sierra Vista which is a hardship on the families for them to go travel and visit their loved ones."
The closeness to I-10 will make it quicker and easier for families to visit here but there's another benefit too. Thousands of drivers a day can glance over and see a tribute to the men and women for fought for this country.
Most of the land is a gift from the Kai family of Marana. Greg Wexler helped arrange the donation.
He says it's a thank you in the spirit of the late John and Mamie Kai who were grateful for all the opportunities American gave them after they emigrated from China.
“Mr. and Mrs. Kai, who are deceased were very active in helping America, the State of Arizona, they've been here since 1906 so they’re very interested in giving.”
And now their gift will help honor the gift of service so many gave to our country.
This also is not the only dedication ceremony to happen this year. The third state-regulated military veteran cemetery will open in June. This one will be in Flagstaff.
For information of how to qualify for Veterans’ burial benefits follow this link.