Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New national cemetery slated for Dixon; some say too far from Bay Area

Associated Press

DIXON, Calif. - Kyle Crowley's family brought him as close to home as possible.

His body now rests on a wind-swept slope surrounded by other fallen soldiers in San Bruno's Golden Gate National Cemetery.

His family buried him in April 2004, after the 18-year-old Marine from San Ramon was killed in a firefight in Iraq.

'We wanted him to be buried ... as close to home as we could get,' said his father, Mark Crowley, 47. 'I believe that being there would be very important to him.'

Crowley's search to find a veteran's cemetery close to home is one echoed by many other mourning fathers and mothers across the country.

The federal government currently is undertaking the largest expansion of the national cemetery system since President Lincoln created it during the Civil War. The expansion includes a new 541-acre cemetery near Dixon in Solano County, set to open next summer to provide long-needed grave sites for Bay Area veterans and their families.

Of America's 120 national cemeteries, nearly a third lack space for new grave sites.

The Bay Area's two national cemeteries, in San Bruno and San Francisco, have been virtually closed to interments for several decades. Among the few exceptions have been burials of those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The new national cemetery near Dixon, on the former farm of a World War II veteran with space for about 185,000 interments, will help make more room for Bay Area veterans.

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