NPCA: We're Failing Our National Cemeteries
Each is hallowed ground, poignant places out of our country's history. They're landscapes where much blood was spilled, places that became the final resting ground for thousands. And they're being desecrated by our indifference.
At Gettysburg National Military Park, which includes Gettysburg National Cemetery, the park's budget contains a 41 percent shortfall, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. At Andersonville National Historic Site, where nearly 18,000 American soldiers, sailors and marines are buried, more funding is needed to maintain the cemetery grounds. At Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where nearly 5,000 are buried at Custer National Cemetery, development is pressing in on the cemetery and more money is needed to protect artifacts from the battlefield.
"The National Park Service has a unique ability to foster understanding of these sites and ensure that their significance is preserved for generations of Americans," NPCA President Tom Kiernan said last week in urging Congress to better fund the NPS. "It is up to Congress and the administration to see that the Park Service has the resources needed to do the job."
According to the NPCA, adoption of President Bush's FY08 budget proposal would provide an additional $79,000 for the Anderson National Historic Site, a 6 percent increase above its current funding level.
There also would be $648,000 more -- a 37 percent increase -- for Shiloh National Military Park, which holds the Shiloh National Cementery, and $486,000 for the Antietam National Battlefield and Civil War Cemetery, a 16 percent bump.
In all, there are 14 national cemeteries in the national park system. And we shouldn't overlook them or the men and women who died in battle and are buried in these cemeteries.