Visitors to Miramar National Cemetery over the next several years can expect to see further development of the grounds and facilities, Director Rex Kern told a group who gathered at the cemetery April 6, 2016, for an Open House. Improvements also are planned at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Bradley Phillips, executive director, Memorial Service Network V, of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), introduced Kern. He said Kern had been selected for the San Diego directorship based on his excellent work as director at Port Hudson National Cemetery in Louisiana, and at Los Angeles National Cemetery.
Kern said workers soon will begin work in the unimproved areas bordering the landscaped grounds at Miramar. The cemetery currently has two committal shelters used for services, and more will be added as new burial sections are opened.
“We’re also going to be looking at our irrigation system to find good ways to save water,” Kern said, in order to comply with California’s water conservation plans.
He noted that the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation is working with the NCA to build a Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon on the grounds. The project has received preliminary approval, and is now being reviewed by the NCA’s construction department. The Marine Corps, which leases the cemetery land to the NCA, also is reviewing the project.
Kern said the administration building at Fort Rosecrans is to be renovated, a project that should be completed next year. The current maintenance building will be torn down, and a new building constructed in 2017-18.
In 2015, Smithsonian Magazine named Fort Rosecrans one of the world’s 10 most beautiful cemeteries. Phillips said the NCA’s goal is for Miramar to mirror Fort Rosecrans in beauty and prestige. “The framework is here,” he said. “This is a gorgeous cemetery, has natural space to be developed, and lots to work with.”
Although Fort Rosecrans has been closed to first burials since 1966, the staff conducts 20 to 25 second interments a week there. Some 114,000 veterans and family members are buried at the cemetery.
Phillips said Riverside National Cemetery is the NCA’s busiest cemetery, and Miramar is the seventh fastest growing of the VA cemeteries. More than 8,500 are buried at Miramar, which opened in 2010. Ten to 12 interments are conducted each weekday at Miramar. Burial space should be available at the cemetery through 2060, officials believe.
The NCA manages 133 cemeteries nationwide, eight in California. It recently opened a new cemetery in Florida, and is planning several in the Midwest. In the Pacific District, the NCA expects to open new cemeteries in Nevada and Idaho.
By Bill Heard
Public Information Officer