INSTITUTE (AP) — Several state and local dignitaries and veterans were on hand as West Virginia’s new $14.1 million veterans cemetery was dedicated at a Memorial Day ceremony.
The 354-acre Donel Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery has the capacity to serve as the final resting place for about 60,000 veterans. The first veteran interred there will be Kinnard, the former state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars who died in 2009 at age 72 and was instrumental in establishing West Virginia’s first state-run veterans cemetery.
“It was an honor to work with Don on this project, and we worked very hard to get it started because it’s important for our veterans and their families to know they will be remembered always in a place of such honor and distinction,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
“This memorial cemetery is the least we can do for our veterans and their families to thank them for what they’ve done for us.”
Also attending the ceremony were Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Cabinet Secretary Keith Gwinn, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Kinnard’s widow, Rebecca Kinnard.
“I have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform, and I believe the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery will serve as a worthy resting place for those who have served and sacrificed,” Tomblin said.
The cemetery was funded by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant. Dow Chemical donated the land adjacent to the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Kinnard was a Vietnam veteran who retired from the Navy after 22 years of service. He was the most highly decorated veteran in Putnam County after receiving the Navy Cross, seven Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.
Kinnard also was instrumental in establishing the state’s 120-bed veterans nursing facility in Clarksburg.