In the past I have written about our Veterans Memorial Cemetery program, with locations in Boulder City and Fernley. These two cemeteries are really shrines to our fallen, and our teams at both locations do an incredible job of providing the highest degree of dignity, honor and respect to those whom they inter. We are very proud of the work our teams do.
Last week, we held our latest meeting of the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery advisory committee out at the cemetery in Fernley. Each cemetery has its own committee, and each is composed of leaders of the veteran community as well as legislators. Their purpose is to provide guidance and advice to us. Several members of the Northern Nevada committee are leaders in the veteran community in Carson City.
In addition to receiving advice and guidance from the committee, Wes Block, the cemetery superintendent, made several important announcements to the committee about what he and his team have been working on lately. He spoke of ongoing maintenance items and facility improvements by state Public Works under way; water-conservation projects; improved access to the entire facility for people of all levels of ability resulting from new walkways; efforts to improve the turf; a remarkable flag-retirement site made possible by the generosity of the American Legion Post 37; and other improvements. The committee is used to hearing such progress reports from Wes, but it is always amazing how much he and his team are able to accomplish between each meeting.
Wes also mentioned an important piece of news that many were not aware of. In January of this year, our office was informed by the National Cemetery Administration of the federal VA that our cemetery achieved the Excellence of Appearance Award. This award resulted from a review conducted by the VA last summer, and is certainly the result of the hard work provided by Wes and his team. It truly is a remarkable achievement.
We also spent some time during the meeting to plan for this year's Memorial Day ceremony. Because the program is hosted at our facility annually, Wes has been working on the facilities and accommodations for this year's event, set for 11 a.m. May 27. We are working with members of the committee and the Northern Nevada Veterans Coalition to secure a color guard, speakers, honored guests and everything else we need to make this day the day of honor that it is intended to be. I am excited with the program as it has developed, and we all look forward to another great event and great turnout.
This year's Memorial Day ceremony will have an interesting added element to it. The Department of Defense is launching its decade-long celebration and remembrance of the end of combat in Vietnam this year, with events scheduled around the country. We have partnered with the Nevada National Guard to host Nevada's first event at our Fernley cemetery, when a veterans motorcycle club from the area, the Ghost Soldiers, will be unveiling their latest memorial on the cemetery grounds. This one honors Nevadans in the Vietnam War, following the traditional Memorial Day ceremony.
While Memorial Day comes once a year, we work with the local community to hold unaccompanied services once a month at our Fernley cemetery. Unaccompanied services are for veterans who pass away and have no family or friends who are able to attend their services. Thanks to a large community of support and the Northern Nevada Veterans Coalition Honor Guard, we host these services at 3 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. They are remarkable programs, and more and more people are attending them every month.
These meetings are really just reminders of all of the great work that our cemetery staff and the volunteer communities do. They work to honor the fallen, to provide a place of reflection, and to provide Nevadans an opportunity to honor those who have served. I hope you will make the short drive to Fernley and see our facility sometime, especially this upcoming Memorial Day. I think you will be as proud of our cemeteries as we are.
• Caleb S. Cage is the executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. You can read his blog at http://veterans.nv.gov/blog.