Every year millions of Americans visit national cemeteries across the nation to call on the grave sites of loved ones, to attend Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, or to take a leisurely walk inside the walls of some of America’s most hallowed grounds.   A national cemetery is a place where genuine heroes are buried who represent the expanse of American history from the Revolutionary War to the present. It is a place of dignity, honor and respect.

On Memorial Day 2016, VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will officially launch the Veterans Legacy Program to provide educational opportunities for the public to learn about the about the legacy of Veteran sacrifice.

Using online educational resources such as lesson plans, interactive maps and short video vignettes, NCA seeks to engage the general public, students and educators. NCA will make these materials available on a dedicated landing page for the project. The initiative will be launched at two pilot sites: Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina and Riverside National Cemetery in California. In the future, additional lesson plans and videos will be developed for each VA national cemeteries – these cemetery-specific resources will help create a comprehensive virtual library and archive for the public.

VeteransLegacy_LogoThe lesson plans, maps and videos include the compelling stories of Veterans buried in Riverside and Beaufort, such as Medal of Honor recipient, Ysmael Villegas, killed in the Philippines during World War II who was Riverside’s first interment, and Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who was killed at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina during the Civil War. Shaw was buried with the black freedmen he commanded from the 54th Massachusetts. After the war the Union Army disinterred and reburied all the remains—including, presumably, those of Col. Shaw—at Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina where their gravestones are marked as “Unknown.”

“VA national cemeteries have abundant resources, such as these Veterans stories, architecture, landscape and monuments, which provide endless research and learning opportunities,” said Ronald E. Walters, Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.

On May 30, NCA plans to officially announce the effort at the Memorial Day ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery, one of the pilot sites. VA will also announce a partnership with the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to co-sponsor workshops for educators who will conduct research at VA national cemeteries and ABMC cemeteries. This partnership will be the first of many future opportunities for the public to actively participate in structured educational and research programs at national cemeteries.

You can receive updates about the Veterans Legacy Program sign-up for notifications, e-mails and information by subscribing here.


About the author: James Theres is a speechwriter for the National Cemetery Administration.

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Published on May. 28, 2016

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

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  1. Fred Grimm June 9, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I would like the VA to spread the word about the D.O.V.E. Fund out of Toledo, Ohio. Vietnam Veterans from that area have made 16 trips back to Vietnam and have contributed funds to build 53 schools, fresh water projects, carts for the disabled, scholarships, etc. See what they have done at http://www.dovefund.org

  2. Michael Whitley June 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I have been fighting for more than two months with the VA in Martinsburg WV concerning my prescription shoes that, after receiving them for 18 years, they say that I no longer qualify to get them. When did my feet heal themselves? And whatever happened to the veteran being a part of his health care team? Everyone is passing the buck while my health is going down hill. To say that this Vietnam Vet is mad and discussed is putting it mildly. This decision was made with out any input from me and without my knowledge. Really, should I package up my glasses, compression socks, hearing aids,tens unit, and also have the VA undo my CABAG surgery? This is just that rediculous. I, as have many of you, fought in Nam, and now I’m having to fight for what I have earned. This Vietnam Vet is not going to give up without a strong hard fight, Martinsburg get ready for the fight that you have asked for.

  3. Richard H. Kutz June 2, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I see no mention of overseas cemetary. So many brave men are beried on foreign soit. US Army air force Sargent Henry A. Kutz (my father) gave his life for our country in WWII. His headstone is in a memorial cemetary in the Phillippenines along with many other brave men. I served in Nam and I pray to God that there will be no more World Wars…

  4. William Roy Crowell June 1, 2016 at 12:16 am

    It is a solid contribution to supporting those Veterans no longer with us. Fitting project to be certain.

    Yet I would be remiss if I did not also mention what THIS VETERAN THINKS of projects performed by the VA such as this one. Remembering the Fallen should always get pointed out. I personally believe most of this stuff is for those left behind such as friends, family, etc. Nice gestures and all aside, it serves the VA’s agenda for good advertising and the propaganda of how much the VA cares about and (for) the Veterans still alive.

    The ones in distress who fight sometimes longer then 30 years to get the treatment and or benefits promised as part of our service to the Country. The VA perpetuates a broken system when it comes to Veterans Disability Claims. The entire Division that handles claims is geared to denial of benefits. The Failed process has gone on for years with the VA and all their dirty and even illegal tactics including as well their so called regulations and rules continues to fight each claim often with no end in sight to the detriment of the LIVING Veterans. The backlog the VA claims to have made progress in clearing up is more deception. Sure they resolved a bunch of claims. They DENIED the claims and for those who they denied, allegedly clearing the claim, wind up buried again on a list for appeals. This in affect will ensure another series of waiting for in many to most cases being appealed for additional years.

    How many Veterans claims have died with the veteran after a long fight ending with the death of the Veteran. The spouses and children who were not able to receive benefit in the form of financial securities because the VA denied their liability to someones husband/wife or child? How many families have had to provide the resources for their Vet in need yet denied for years by the VA?

    So sure the VA working to remember the Fallen is great and I support it. I would also support Veterans and their claims dating back more then 30 years being resolved. The VA, it has been proven, has shredded evidence detrimental to the VA denying benefits to VETS. Now not only do they continue to screw over the living Veterans as if that is not bad enough. But it is now also proven they delay treatment and have substandard wait times for said treatments. Veterans have died. By the VA’s own reports ONLY 300 or so Vets died because of inadequate treatment or even an appointment for treatment in a timely fashion could be had. I laugh at the number of 300 victims of the VA. I bet their is substantially more Vets no longer with us because of the poor services by the VA

    I could go on and on. There are some great things and care that occur with the nursing staff generally speaking. The rest of it boils down to this :


    I would love to hear from any Vets being screwed for benefits at my email. If I receive enough of the stories, I am working on getting the problems and stories out to the public. I would love to see 1000 or more emails from Vets like myself, tired of the VA getting away with problems created by the VA that leaves hundreds and maybe millions of Vets hung out to dry.

    William R. Crowell

  5. larry e murray May 31, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I don’t think there is a Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald I been trying to get a hold of him for a year now but it’s like all the va they don’t want to talk to me. They just wish I would go a way are die so far all they have done is pass the buck.

    • Timothy Eagan June 3, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Stop Whining! You’re a Veteran!
      Stand up and fight back. Your job is first to bury everyone you can with as much paper and letters as possible. That includes senators, congress persons as well as the VA. I am stone cold serious.
      The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
      If you have people who know your situation then get the writing every possible represenative.
      I’VE been fighting since February 72 but since then they not only no longer deny my 2 tours in country. I now am certified 100%. And to top it off it took 40 yrs but DOD Awarded me 2 Bronze stars and finally acknowledged me. prayers for you bro.

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