Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the new cemetery is a national veterans cemetery, however, the new cemetery is a state cemetery. This story has been changed to reflect this correction.
FORT STANTON, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday is the first Veterans Day at New Mexico’s newest veteran’s cemetery. People from all over the state, including a few of New Mexico’s most prominent politicians, gathered there for the dedication and groundbreaking in Fort Stanton.
It was a cold and windy day but it didn’t take away from the joy veterans felt to celebrate the groundbreaking.
“Even though it was cold, it was a huge turnout and we really appreciate everyone showing up today,” said Veteran Erik Hoskinson.
Veterans, community members and high school students filled the cemetery to pay tribute to those who’ve served in the armed forces.
The new cemetery will include 650 grave sites. Fort Stanton is less than 76 miles away for the more than 50,000 veterans living in the Roswell, Ruidoso and Alamogordo areas.
In attendance at the ceremony were senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall.
“This is a collective effort federal government, state government, local government all pulled resources to put veterans cemeteries closer to the veterans,” said Udall.
The keynote speaker was Governor Susana Martinez. She stressed that in a state as large and rural as New Mexico it is important to make sure that veterans’ cemeteries are as close to home as possible.
“And they are hours and hours away and here they just drive a short drive pay their respects and are able to do so as often as they want and as often as our veterans deserve,” said Martinez.
It should take about a year and a half to complete the cemetery in Fort Stanton.