Mare Island

Photo Courtesey Ralph Parrott

Petition seeks to get abandoned Naval cemetery into the VA's hands once and for all

Matt Saintsing
February 13, 2018 - 11:22 am
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The fate of a neglected Northern California U.S. Naval Cemetery may rest in the hands of President Donald Trump, if a petition circulating online is successful.

The petition on Change.org is requesting the Trump administration assume ownership of the decaying Mare Island Naval Cemetery, in Vallejo, Calif., by fiscal 2020.

“The Mare Island Naval Cemetery (MINC) is a national shrine but its deplorable condition is a shocking disgrace to the honorable service, uncommon valor, and selfless sacrifice of our courageous Veterans buried there and, even worse, to the dignity our great Nation,” the petition reads.

The petition aims to get the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, a wing of the VA that provides burial sites for veterans, to assume responsibility. In an attempt to lure the VA, the City of Vallejo is also offering to hand-over more land adjacent to the cemetery that would allow local veterans to be buried there.

As of Tuesday, the petition has 92 signatories, but organizers are optimistic they’ll be able to drum up more support, both locally and across the nation.

The 160-years-old Mare Island Naval Shipyard, the first permanent U.S. Naval installation on the Pacific coast, closed in 1996 after a round of base realignment and closure (BRAC), a process by which the federal government closes military installations.

But the historic naval cemetery, the final resting place of three Medal of Honor recipients and Anna Key Turner, the fifth child of Star Spangled Banner author Francis Scott Key, has since fallen into disrepair after the federal government didn’t provide any funding for its upkeep.

Fences have been crumbling, and even some headstones are visibly shattered.  

The City of Vallejo has provided some aesthetic preservation, such as moving grass and pruning overgrown acacia trees, but the city filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Limited superficial maintenance is provided by some city officials, but is mostly the concern of local volunteers and advocates who want to see the cemetery lifted out of its current state.

In September of last year, dozens of local volunteers came to the cemetery for a National Day of Service, and gave the site some much needed care.

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan has previously said the city would formally request the VA to assume responsibility for the run-down property.

Click here to sign the petition.

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