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  • Fargo National Cemetery: Dedicated to honoring veterans

  • Fargo National Cemetery: Dedicated to honoring veterans

    Fargo National Cemetery: Dedicated to honoring veterans

    Did you know that Fargo is home to a national cemetery? And, it’s a pretty big deal to have a site in a community such as ours.

    The Fargo National Cemetery (which technically is located in Harwood, ND) was part of the National Cemetery Administration’s rural burial initiative program, which created cemetery access for smaller communities of veterans than had typically been served in the past. Fargo was one of eight new rural cemeteries planned to serve veterans in states where there were no open national cemeteries. Another reason our region was attractive because there are many veteran support groups here, including the Fargo VA, Department of Veteran Affairs medical center and regional offices, disabled veteran organizations, American Legions and VFWs.

    The cemetery’s dedication ceremony took place in September 2019, and the site opened with its first burial in October 2019. It takes up 4.8 acres, with 3,111 gravesites currently. Eventually, the cemetery will house between 6,000 and 8,000 graves as it expands to future phases.

    “Our whole purpose is to honor veterans and their families for the service and dedication they provided to our country,” Robert Roeser, administrative officer for Fort Snelling Cemetery Complex, explained. Going back to Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, the NCA promises to care for those who have “borne the battle.” This includes providing dignified burial spots, a marker and perpetual care of the grounds at no cost to the veterans or families.

    A Fargo National Cemetery volunteer committee offers a chance for individuals to get involved in the cemetery’s work and honor veterans. One of their key roles is to put on events such as the Memorial Day program. While last year’s event was virtual, Roeser said that Fargo put on one of the best programs throughout the entire NCA. Brandy Pyle, a state representative, heads the committee.

    While everyone is hoping for an in-person Memorial Day service this year, the Fargo National Cemetery team is planning a virtual program as well just in case. Roeser said that, “We always want a live event; we want people to come out here and see the cemetery and participate in a live event with speakers talking about what the day means, which is really all about the ultimate sacrifice.”

    Roeser shared the overwhelming response and support that was received when forming the committee initially. “We have a great cross-sect of veterans and non-veterans, and it really is supposed to be community driven. We want the community to support veterans, and this committee exemplifies exactly what we’re trying to do.”

    A lot of communities have private veterans cemeteries, but this one is different, Roeser maintains. “We consider our headstones and markers monuments, not unlike the national monuments in Washington, D.C., and held to standards that are very high,” he said. “We are always going to have a clean, crisp, honorable cemetery, and it will be like that forever.”

    Jennifer Lieder, cemetery manager, added that she is excited to join the staff locally and is honored to see the level of respect everyone has for the hallowed grounds at the cemetery.

    Future plans include the construction of a permanent restroom and a windbreak to protect visitors, which is expected to begin next year.

    To stay up to date on the cemetery and its events, follow along at facebook.com/fargonationalcemeterycommittee.

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