South Alabama getting new veterans cemetery

Published 4:44 am Tuesday, May 26, 2009

By By Jo Bonner
Last week, in the shadow of Memorial Day weekend, Governor Bob Riley signed legislation establishing a state veterans’ cemetery in Spanish Fort, Alabama, a site commonly known as Saluda Hill.
The wait for this cemetery has been a long time coming. My predecessor, Congressman Sonny Callahan, and I worked closely with local veterans’ groups in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, as well as other counties in southwest Alabama to expand the current national cemetery in Mobile.
The Mobile Cemetery, as many of you know, has been closed to active burials since the 1960s. The only exception is for those killed in combat duty - such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
The other veterans’ cemetery in Alabama is at Fort Mitchell in Seale which is about 250 miles away. A third cemetery is under construction in Montevallo, but that is about 233 miles from Mobile.
This is a growing problem because south Alabama veterans who want to be buried in a veterans’ cemetery are forced to choose between Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida, and Biloxi National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi, the two closest veterans’ cemeteries.
When Congressman Callahan left office, I picked up the mantle and was successful in acquiring additional funding for a national cemetery.
We looked at expanding the Mobile Cemetery at its present location. Unfortunately, the cemetery is landlocked, and studies showed that nearby property was a potters’ cemetery from during the Civil War. Another piece of property was a place where horses had once been buried.
Unfortunately, there was not an adequate place adjacent to the national cemetery in Mobile for expansion.
To that end, in August 2006, I hosted a meeting with officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Memorial Affairs along with local veterans to discuss future options for this much needed cemetery.
This meeting confirmed what we had believed all along - the Spanish Fort property in question was an acceptable site for a veterans’ cemetery and that a state cemetery would be the best option available to make this dream become reality.
The Baldwin County Commission, along with local officials, Dr. Barry Booth and other veterans in southwest Alabama, moved forward to ensure this property near Historic Blakely State Park in Spanish Fort would serve as a final resting place for our veterans, and as you can see, they were successful.
The legislation, originally introduced in the state House by Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne), and signed by Governor Riley, creates Alabama’s first state veterans’ cemetery and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs will provide funding for this project through grants.
This will truly be a first-class cemetery at a premier location to honor our men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and who have served their country by giving their all.
DTV Transition - June 12, 2009
Next week, the nation will complete its transition to digital television on Friday, June 12, 2009. On that day, all remaining full-power television stations still broadcasting in analog will transition to a digital format.
This means stations will no longer broadcast in analog and some traditional televisions will no longer work.
The decision to transition to analog was due in large part to the lessons learned in the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
First responders must be able to communicate with each other in times of disaster, and switching to digital will free up bandwidth so they can better communicate in times of emergency.
If you have an older television that is not hooked up to cable, satellite or other pay television service, you will need to upgrade to digital television in order to continue to have television reception.
There are three options to continue television reception:
1. Purchase a digital television (DTV) converter box for your existing television set,
2. Purchase a television set with a built-in digital tuner, or
3. Subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay television service.
You can purchase a converter box, with a government coupon, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Coupons are valid 90 days from the time they are mailed, and converter boxes can be found at most major retail stores.
If you requested a coupon and it expired before you had an opportunity to use it, you can request a replacement coupon online at or by calling 1-888-DTV2009.
For more information, you can call 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) or visit
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my Web site at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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