The theme of this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony was “Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I.”
Mary Elder, assistant regional director, external affairs Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was the keynote speaker. Guest speaker Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett, Commanding Officer Canadian Detachment JBLM, provided an address, providing an overview of the role that Canadian forces had in the many wars they have been involved in. Royal Canadian Air Force Master Corporal Jason Roswell read the poem “Flanders Fields.”
Members from the Washington National Guard, Tahoma National Cemetery Support Group and members of the Volunteer Honor Guard participated in the ceremony. Washington National Guard from Camp Murray provided the Color Guard with a member of the Canadian contingent. Kathy Corrion sang the National Anthem and O’ Canada. U.S. Navy Captain (Ret) Chaplain Steve Morrison gave the invocation. More than 500 people attended, including; Dr. Connie Morantes, MD, deputy chief of staff of VA Puget Sound HCS, and Laura Kaihlanen, Seattle Regional Office Director’s management analysts. Master of ceremony duties were conducted by Joe LaVoie, chairman of the Tahoma Support Group.
“The story of America’s Veterans is etched in time – ordinary men and women who stepped forward to purchase our independence with their service and to help others who felt the oppression of tyranny. Today we remember them all,” said Tahoma Cemetery Director Thomas Yokes. “It is our duty – not just on Veterans Day, but every day – to remember the sacrifices they’ve made and to make certain that our commitments to them and to their families are honored.”
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces, and veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Their spouse, widow, or widower, minor children and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
In the midst of the largest expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 136 national cemeteries and 33 solders’ lots and monuments sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every U.S. war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve and maintain 95 veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers, or medallions for placement in private cemeteries.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA district offices toll-free at 1 (800) 827-1000.