Larger-than-life monument guards veterans’ cemetery
After years of fundraising, a larger-than-life U.S. Cavalry monument is keeping watch at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley.
The bronze statue of an unmounted, crouched cavalry trooper was commissioned in honor of Nevada’s 1st Battalion Volunteer Cavalry. Sculptor Scott Rogers from Utah created the monument.
“It’s an enormous thing for the cemetery,” said Douglas McDonald, a Vietnam veteran and cavalry enthusiast who was involved in the project. “I was thrilled to see it up.”
“It’s for veterans everywhere,” he continued. “It was an emotional and spectacular day.”
Mounted members of today’s Nevada Volunteer Cavalry watched the ceremony that included a mock cavalry charge. Award-winning country-western singer, military supporter and Virginia City resident Lacy J. Dalton sang the national anthem and later all five verses to “Amazing Grace” prior to a three-cannon salute.
Keynote speaker and Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan highlighted Vietnam veterans, many of whom were in attendance. He expressed a heartfelt “welcome home” that they should have received after the Vietnam War.
Others in attendance were Caleb Cage, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Homeland Security adviser; Katherine (Kat) Miller, director of the State of Nevada Department of Veterans Service; and Eric Grimes, superintendent OF the cemetery.
“The Trooper” is mounted on a bronze boulder and perched on a rocky hill in the cemetery’s southeast corner, appearing to be standing guard over the thousands of veterans interred there.
The endeavor to obtain the statue started about five years ago. Fundraising involved reaching out to family foundations in Reno including the Charles H. Stout Foundation, which supplied most of the funding. Approximately $34,000 was raised for the monument, the last $4,000 being brought in by the Northern Nevada Veteran’s Coalition. Their efforts helped complete the statue’s pedestal and plaque.
“It feels absolutely wonderful,” McDonald said. “Most every man who was involved in it was a veteran. We’ve seen some pretty crappy wars, so we wanted to have something that said something proud without showing a great deal of violence.”
“I wanted something that stood for pride and character and tradition,” he said, “not necessarily for the violence and hatred and bloodshed of war.”
Since the cemetery’s opening in 1990, more than 5,000 veterans and their family members have been placed to rest there. It serves veterans and their families from Northern Nevada and eastern parts of California.
The Northern Nevada Veterans Coalition is a group of veterans and non-veterans whose main focus is to support the cemetery.
Brett Palmer, the coalition’s president, organized the monument dedication.
“We’ve had a very positive response,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed.”