Members of the Alabama National Guard took part in the dedication ceremony of the new Alabama National Cemetery on Sunday, July 13. The new military burial site is located adjacent to the American Village in Montevallo.
Maj. Gen. Abner C. Blalock, Adjutant General of the Alabama Guard, took part in the program and joined other officials in unveiling the plaque that will be placed at the entrance to the cemetery.
A firing squad from the Alabama National Guard's Funeral Honors Program fired a three volley salute at the end of the dedication program. After the rifle salute, the poignant sounds of Taps echoed across the site as the crowd, estimated at more than 1,500, stood quietly in reverence and respect.
The Alabama Guard's Funeral Honors Program provides firing squads, pall bearers, buglers and other support at funeral services and burials of service members and veterans across the state.
The Montevallo National Cemetery will be the third located in Alabama. The oldest cemetery in the state is in Mobile. The second one, at Fort Mitchell in Russell County, is nearing capacity.
The new 479-acre Montevallo cemetery is expected to begin burials late this year or early in 2009. Quincy Whitehead, Montevallo cemetery director, said 900 to 1,000 burials are anticipated in the first year.
William Tuerk, undersecretary for memorial for the federal VA, was the keynote speaker for the dedication. He said the new Montevallo cemetery has been called the "Arlington of the South" by many in the military.