Thursday, January 19, 2006

Finalizing Name Last Hurdle for Regional Vets' Cemetery

Finalizing Name Last Hurdle for Regional Vets' Cemetery
By David Henson/Staff Writer

Within the next month, construction on a new, 561-acre veterans' cemetery near Dixon should begin, said Dean Moline, the recently-named director of the cemetery.

All it needs now is a name.

Bids to construct the project are in, but Moline said the contract can't be awarded until federal officials christen the cemetery with one of two names - either Solano National Cemetery or Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.

Once a name is selected, construction on a 14-acre "fast-tracked" portion of the cemetery to alleviate a backlog of demand can commence with anticipated completion in August or sooner.

Construction on the entire project, to be located near Midway Road, would follow and would take three years.

During his address in Dixon at the periodic Mayors' Conference, Moline told officials from around Solano County that the "name should be something everyone in the area can relate to and have ownership of," particularly since he will be relying on local groups to collaborate on events and funerals.

Moline also noted, however, that the cemetery will serve veterans throughout the region - from the Bay to Sacramento areas.

With the surrounding communities' support, Moline said he hoped to turn the new veterans' cemetery into the "Arlington of the West" - a moniker associated with Moline's last employer, Riverside National Cemetery.

"I stand here in front of you honored to be here and to think about what we can do for our veterans," said Moline, who spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy before working at national cemeteries in the region.

As an example, Moline said he wanted to encourage both active duty and veterans groups to help ensure full military honors are available for every veteran interned at the new cemetery. The Department of Defense only guarantees two military members for veterans' funerals, which would mean no rifle salute or live taps, he added.

"As much as your honored, I think we're honored to have a national cemetery in Solano," county Supervisor John Vasquez said. "We want it to reflect not only a community with a lot of veterans, but a community that has a lot of pride. We consider Travis (Air Force Base) an eighth city."

Soon, Moline will be setting up shop locally - he hopes near or on Travis. Initially, he said he wants to speak to as many veterans groups as he can to let them know about their burial options.

"On average, less than 20 percent of veterans are buried at national cemeteries, so we've got to get the word out that this is the preferred place to be buried," Moline said. "Most veterans don't even know they can be buried at a national cemetery."

David Henson can be reached at

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