In March 13, 2015, the groundbreaking ceremony for the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery (CCCVC) at the General Stilwell Community Center in Seaside marked a major landmark in the effort to construct what eventually will be a fitting tribute to the many veterans who have served our country. The groundbreaking was for a 17-acre development that will include 5,000 columbarium niches, landscaping, a memorial walkway and supporting infrastructure.
Eventually, the proposed project will become a 78-acre expanse with as many as 70,000 burial sites, which is estimated to provide for nearly 100 years of burials for veterans and their families. That eventual build-out is, of course, dependent upon funding. Even the first 17-acre phase was a challenge, as volunteers and area government officials worked together to raise about $10M. U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, was able to find $6.8M in federal funds, and state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, helped secure another $2M from the state.
The second phase of the cemetery got off to a good start when supporters of the cemetery received a check for more than $1.1M from the estate of Robert and Elayne Stein of Watsonville. Senator Monning commented that the gift “will allow us to accelerate with confidence.” The big challenge for the expansion phase of the cemetery will be raising money and handling land-use challenges.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “I will forever be proud of those who responded to the call of duty now and throughout our history. They heard the call of the trumpet and they were there for us. Now it is our turn to be there for them. To give them the dignity and honor of finding a final resting place near their families and their communities on the Central Coast.”
The California Department of Veteran Affairs started CCCVC construction fall of 2015. On October 11, 2016, the long awaited Opening Ceremony was held, which included the memorial service and inurnment of Major William Williams, U.S. Army. Expansion, as yet unfunded, will include 11,500 gravesites in its 20-year build out.
For information and how to contribute much needed funds: www.ccveteranscemetery.org/phase-one