From 1941 through 1945, our nation was engaged in the most expansive war this world has ever known. Nebraskans were called to duty so that our country would never experience the devastation that war had brought to Europe and Asia.
On the home front, military bases were constructed in several communities throughout our state so that young men and women could be trained in the military skills necessary to defeat the tyranny we faced in World War II.
The service members stationed at these bases came from Nebraska and other states throughout the country. What they all found was a second home and family-like moral support. Memories and structures still exist that remind of us of the sacrifices required of that generation. It is among the fields of one of these former bases that raises Nebraska's newest monument.
In 2006, I signed legislation to create a state veterans cemetery system to honor the service that Nebraskans have offered our nation. This system will have a multi-purpose mission. It will exist as a shrine to honor our veterans who have passed, and this cemetery will serve as a location to educate our children about patriotism and the price of freedom. Annual ceremonies held at these facilities on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other significant dates will allow Nebraskans to preserve our heritage and celebrate the principles by which we live.
The first of these state veteran cemeteries is currently under construction in Box Butte County. Land that was once used as an Army Airbase to train paratroopers and glider pilots has been transformed into a landscaped memorial filled with native trees and plants of Western Nebraska. Burial fields exist at the facility to house more than 8,000 veterans in their final resting place. Upright marble headstones, like the ones provided at Arlington National Cemetery, will be placed on each grave.
Once construction is complete, the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Alliance will provide interment and committal services for Nebraska veterans, the veteran's spouse, and their dependent children. Through this facility and the ones to follow, Nebraskans will be able to express their thanks for the sacrifices these veterans and their families endured so that our way of life is forever preserved.
On Aug. 13, I will be in Alliance to dedicate the new cemetery that many Nebraskans already consider hallowed ground. We know that it is not legislation or a declaration that makes a piece of ground sacred, rather our recognition. The spirit of patriotism that flooded this land during WWII remains today. Henceforth, it will be accompanied by the graves of veterans and their family members to demonstrate true patriotism.
I invite all Nebraskans to attend the Dedication Ceremony of Nebraska's first state veteran cemetery. Together, we will demonstrate true gratitude and recognition that the price of freedom is never free.