Monday, December 7, 2015

Extraterritorial Graveyards: Graveyards in Foreign Countries Owned by Another Country

We've made mention in this space before about the American Battle Monuments Commission which maintains cemeteries and memorials overseas, usuch as that at Epinal, France, where my cousin Chaarles T. Bowie lies in repose. The ABMC oversees sites in 16 foreign countries and the UK Dependency of Gibraltar.  (The ABMC also has  four sites within the United States – can you name one?).

But did you know that there are several foreign owned cemeteries and memorials in the United States itself?

Two cemeteries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, United States, one on Ocracoke Island and one on Hatteras Island in the town of Buxton, are owned by the United Kingdom. Both contain the graves of British seamen whose bodies washed ashore after German U-Boat attacks that occurred on 10 April 1942 against the San Delfino  and 11 May 1942 against (HMT Bedfordshire). Although thirty-eight souls were lost aboard the Bedfordshire, only five bodies were recovered. Four graves are at Ocracoke and two at Buxton; three of the bodies were never identified; one of them could be that of a Canadian seaman. The plot of land at Ocracoke "has been forever ceded to England" and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The plot was leased to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for as long as the land remained a cemetery. The graves on Hatteras Island are maintained by the U.S. National Park Service. Ironically, this portion of the Outer Banks is where the pirate Blackbeard was killed by British forces in 1718.

 The Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, and about 25 square feet (2.3 m2) of land around it, the place where James Cook was killed in 1779, is owned by the United Kingdom. An historian on the occasion of the monument's 50th anniversary recorded in 1928 that the white stone "obelisk monument [was] erected to the memory of Captain Cook, about 1876, and on land deeded outright to the British Government by Princess Likelike, sister of King Kalakaua, about the same year, so that that square is absolute British Territory." Hawaii was a sovereign nation at the time. According to a 2011 article by John M. MacFarland, "The land under the monument was deeded to the United Kingdom in 1877 and is considered as sovereign non-embassy land owned by the British Embassy in Washington DC. ... the Hawaiian State Parks agency maintained that as sovereign British territory it was the responsibility of the UK to maintain the site."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cape Canaveral National Cemetery Dedication

VA Launches Cape Canaveral National Cemetery

Cape Canaveral National Cemetery

Happening now! Launch of Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. See video here later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

USA's Newest VA Cemetery to be Dedicated Fri Nov 20--All Americans Invited

Mims, Florida--The nation's newest veterans' cemetery will be dedicated on Friday, November 20, 2015.  The Cape Canaveral National Cemetery will be opened  with a keynote address by the Honorable Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The 2:00 pm (Eastern Time) ceremony is set for one hour with preliminary activities starting at 1:00 pm. Greg Pallone of Central Florida News 13 will be the master of ceremonies and retired NASA astronaut Robert Springer will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard,  the Florida National Guard Honors Firing Party, and the 13th Army band will also participate.  VA Undersecretary Ronald Walters, who heads the national cemetery division, has invited all Americans to the ceremony. For those who can't make it to the Space Coast on Friday, The Peripatetic Graveyard Rabbit will have video of the ceremony by mid afternoon Pacific time.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the 318 acre cemetery, located along U.S. Hwy. 1 in northern Brevard County, will serve the needs of 163,000 veterans in its service area for the next 100 years.

Although construction on the first phase of the cemetery estimated to hold 17,000 gravesites, will not be completed until May 2017, the VA's contractor, G&C Fab-Con LLC of Flemington, New Jersey, is ahead of schedule, according to Don W Murphy, director of the new cemetery.  The early turnover of a portion of the cemetery will provide burial options for the next 10 years according to Murphy.

Families of eligible veterans may apply now for burial services. Families should call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117.

G&C Fab-Con LLC is a service disabled owned company which specializes in Veterans Affairs projects.

Murphy, the cemetery director, is an Army veteran of operation Desert Storm. He began his career with the VA in 1992 as a clerk typist, and by 1997 had worked his way up to deputy director of operations of Veterans Affairs' cemetery division in Washington, DC.

Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, 5525 US Highway 1, Mims, Florida--How to Get There:

From Orlando International Airport – Take 528 East 26 miles to 407 North (Kennedy Space Center), travel 5 miles to I-95, then North on I-95 for 19 miles to Exit 231.

From Melbourne/Southern Brevard County - Take I-95 North 50 miles to Exit 231.
From Daytona – Take I-95 South 30 miles to Exit 231.

From Exit 231 – Drive one mile to U.S. Highway 1, turn right and drive one mile, turn left on Huntington Road – Drive ¾ mile then turn right on Dixie Way – Ceremony area will be on the right.

From Mims or Titusville via U.S. Highway 1 – Travel north on U.S. Hwy 1, after entering Scottsmoor drive past the cemetery property and turn right on Huntington Road, follow direction signs to ceremony area.