Grand Island breaks ground on the new Nebraska Veterans Cemetery

The Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Grand Island project has been a long time coming.
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2023 at 10:25 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Grand Island project has been a long time coming.

From proposal, to finding the millions for the project, to Friday where officials put shovels into dirt and started the construction process for the final resting place for those who served in the nation’s armed forces.

The project was also made possible in large part from LB80 which awarded it $8 million, and some of the people responsible for helping get that bill through were on hand for the ceremony.

From federal, to state, to local, Nebraska leaders showed up for the big day, and the public also showed out in force, with almost 400 people packing into the cemetery on Capital Avenue.

Locally, Don Shuda played a big role in getting the project to where it is now, and he says this project was crucial to get done as soon as possible.

“It’s important because we need to remember our veterans honor our veterans and again provide them a rest place that they and their family knows will be taken care of,” Shuda said. “It’s just been a great venture for me at least, and I know every veteran appreciates this.”

Senator Ray Aguilar was one of the main driving forces for the expansion project, but he said he was not alone in the effort.

“That was a whole community effort to get it done, and statewide as well, all the help, different members of the legislature participated in the process,” Senator Aguilar said. “It was awesome, when you have the whole city counting on you to get this job done, it’s important that you get it done.”

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said the city is honored to remember those who served.

“I am proud that the city of Grand Island will continue to honor our veterans in many different ways,” Mayor Steele said. “Only one of which is the continuous flying of flags in their honor along Capitol Avenue.”

The Director for the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, John Hilgert, was on hand for the ceremony, and he encouraged people to look to the future of the project.

“It’s going to be something that you all can be proud of, I guarantee it, I guarantee it,” Hilgert said. “This is going to be a wonderful project and I hope to see all of you here in the spring of 2025 when we dedicate it.”

As a part of the project, Mayor Roger Steele directed the Grand Island Public Library to form a database of every veteran buried at the cemetery now and when they new one is finished, then, family and others who visit will be able to do research on the stories behind the headstones.

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