JONESBORO, Maine — There's a new national cemetery in rural Maine. It's Maine's second national veteran cemetery.
The Acadia National Cemetery located in Jonesboro will serve the needs of veterans, spouses, and eligible children living within a 75-mile radius.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs held a dedication ceremony for the new cemetery for qualifying veterans Saturday morning, August 29.
The 6.2-acre cemetery is expected to serve a population of more than 23,000 veterans and their family members.
"It's our 146th national cemetery," says The Honorable Randy Reeves, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.
Reeves says it's located in Washington County to provide access for burial benefits to veterans who live in rural areas of the state.
"One in a number of rural cemeteries which go a long way in being able to serve our veterans in rural America," says Reeves.
"Their family members to visit their graves, so much easier than having to travel to Togus," says Senator Susan Collins.
Senator Collins mentioned in the ceremony that Maine is home to more than 114,000 veterans. "That's the second-highest percentage on a per capita basis, in the entire nation," says Collins.
Secretary of Veteran Affairs, the honorable Robert Wilkie says to that in order to be buried at any national cemetery you have to have served on the federal service.
"If they put on the uniform during times of federal need, then they will be here," says Wilkie.
The national cemetery's land in Jonesboro was donated by the founders of Wreaths Across America, Morrill and Karen Worcester.
"The first two burials that happened to be here were very close friends of ours and very close friends of Wreaths Across America, so just being so in touch with the veteran community around here, it was the right thing to do and I was so excited when he thought of doing it and glad that they accepted the donation," says Karen Worcester.
There are three state-run Veterans cemeteries in Maine: Central, Northern, and Southern Maine Veterans’ Cemeteries.
"Not just in rural America but in Native America, we are cooperating with the Indian nations of this country, and supporting veterans and their families," says Wilkie.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says kids in the area are able to visit on field trips with their schools. They hope teachers will share with them the stories of those who served and passed away. They say it's a way to make sure Maine children know the history of this country.
"This place of reverence will be a place where those stories are told and those names are spoken forever," says Reeves.
Five veterans have already been laid to rest at the new cemetery.
Now that the initial phase has been completed, there is room for more than 1,400 interments, including caskets, the in-ground burial of cremains, columbaria space for cremains, and a memorial wall.
At full capacity, the cemetery will be able to accommodate more than 7,000 interments.
The new national cemetery is located on 1799 U.S. Route 1, Jonesboro, ME 04648.