Being involved in many veterans organizations I hear what’s on everyone’s mind. The biggest among veterans is a badly needed shelter at the Fargo National Cemetery (FNC).
The FNC is located 8709 40th Ave. N County Road 20. It’s a peaceful spot. The closet thing you will notice is a church that could be a Rockwell painting.
FNC is managed by the National Cemetery Administration, which is part of the VA. They are responsible for the general upkeep of the grounds. They are also responsible for getting the veteran burial benefits earned through service, the casket, flag, burial plaque and coordinating with funeral homes. They do an excellent job with what they do. But they do not do everything.
The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard (FMHG) provides 21 gun salutes, flag folding, military honors and any aspect of a burial. They provide the fitting dignity and respect to the veterans and their families. They do so at the family’s lowest point, with ZERO cost to the family.
FMHG is comprised of volunteers making up the service organizations in this area.
They do this in all weather conditions throughout the year.
Surprisingly there is NO SHELTER at the FNC. NO place for the FMHG or families to get out of the elements. Between burials FMHG members sit in vehicles waiting for the next burial. NO place for the families to gather to say last minute goodbyes. And even NO indoor bathroom. A portable potty is available; however it is a bit of a walk to use. There was the case of a 90 year old family member that walked a very long distance to use the porta potty. Yes 90 years old. I’ve personally seen people relieve themselves between cars. Some of these families drive hours to pay their last respects. A bathroom to offer families would be nice.
A 250K vault style toilet has been talked about. These are basically outhouses. The potential odor and flies will definitely not do anything to comfort the families. Burying our heroes and human waste in the same ground is an indignity.
Jason Hicks commander of the FMHG and other Veterans groups have a plan. They are proposing purchasing an adjacent piece of land and building a shelter. The shelter would be available to the families to say final goodbyes and perform ceremonies. It would also be utilized by the FMHG between services. Other groups wishing to do memorials, Veterans Day or other celebrations and ceremonies could utilize the building.
This shelter is badly needed for the veterans and more importantly their families.
Awareness and fundraising efforts have begun.
The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard FMHG is a nonprofit 501c3.
If you would like to donate, help or get more information please contact (ret) Lt. Col. Jim Graalum 701- 388-5800, or Graalum2k@yahoo.com. Or contact me here.
Please do what you can to contribute. Thanks.
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Be thankful for something.