Summertime in Nebraska is the perfect time for a road trip. Families often set off throughout the state to visit Chimney Rock, chart the Louis and Clark Trail, Fort Robinson, or any of our beautiful state parks. Today marks the inception of another Nebraska travel destination: Nebraska's First State Veterans Cemetery at Alliance. Located in Box Butte County, this cemetery will be dedicated today, and will serve veterans and their families from Nebraska and surrounding states. The Veterans cemetery differs from other landmarks, however, as it means a great deal more. The cemetery is the final resting place for our servicemen and women, those who served us and our freedom during their time here on earth. It is more than just a series of graves, it is an expression of sincerest gratitude from all who will visit, and admiration for those who served.
This much-anticipated day will celebrate not only the cemetery itself, but the thousands whom it will honor and abet. Our great nation has seen some horrific battles, and we have fought gallantly in the world's most devastating wars. Average citizens have answered a call to serve a cause greater than themselves. Nebraska is currently home to some 150,000 Military veterans. These men and women have shown exceptional courage, loyalty, and selflessness throughout their lifetimes by giving of themselves to their country and to their fellow countrymen. It is because of these individuals that we enjoy peace and freedom, and our coveted American lifestyles. They deserve nothing less than a serene and reserved place to be laid to rest; a place where people may come to honor them and to express gratitude for years to come.
This day is the result of much hard work and dedication from Nebraskans all across the state who gave support, most especially those in Alliance who have worked for years towards the goal of creating this cemetery. It is a proud moment for all of us, as we offer respect and admiration to these unselfish men and women who have worked to safeguard our liberty. An official final resting place ensures them the reverence they deserve. Since the idea took hold, some 80 acres of airport ground, once a 1940's military Training Base, was donated by the City of Alliance. The cemetery itself will sit on 21 acres of land, ultimately serving 8000 Nebraska veterans.
It is critical that we remember those who chose a life of sacrifice so that we could live we choose. All are invited to Box Butte County this weekend to celebrate and share in this proud occasion, and all are encouraged to stop at Alliance and pay their respects to our Veterans in the years to come.