WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Wednesday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a grant, totaling $3,215,760, to fund the establishment and construction of a state veterans’ cemetery in Angel Fire.
Currently, the nearest national cemetery to Angel Fire is Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is approximately 91 miles away. The lawmakers said the new cemetery will provide service to approximately 15,700 veterans and their families.
“This new cemetery has been a long time coming, and I’ve proudly worked with veterans and families in Angel Fire and surrounding communities, the congressional delegation, and the state to help get this funding over the finish line,” Udall said. “The Angel Fire veterans’ cemetery will be a fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of New Mexico veterans, and it will help honor their memory by making it easier for veterans’ families in northeastern New Mexico to visit their loved ones. In the Senate, I will continue to work to honor New Mexico’s veterans and service members by making sure we serve them as well as they have served our nation.”
“I’m proud to welcome this funding to build a veterans cemetery in Angel Fire to ensure families in northeastern New Mexico can visit their loved ones in a beautiful setting and without the burden of traveling hundreds of miles,” Heinrich said. “I will continue to support additional veterans cemeteries in our state so that we can honor and respect the sacrifices our veterans from all corners of New Mexico made for our country.”
“Families and veterans in Angel Fire have long deserved access to a local cemetery where they can honor, mourn, and pay tribute to our nation’s service men and women,” Luján said. “I will continue to work with the congressional delegation and local communities to ensure the creation of additional veteran’s cemeteries so all New Mexicans have the opportunity to pay their respects to our veterans.”
Angel Fire is home to Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, which was established in 1968 by Victor and Jean Westphall to honor their son, Marine First Lieutenant David Westphall, who was killed in action in 1968. The Peace and Brotherhood Chapel at the State Park, dedicated in 1971, was the first major Vietnam memorial in the United States. Each year, veterans participating in the Run for the Wall motorcycle ride make a stop in Angel Fire on the way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The grant will fund the construction of a main entrance, roads, flag assembly area, maintenance building, 100 pre-place crypts, 200 columbarium niches, 100 cremation gravesites, and memorial walls. The project will develop approximately 1.3 acres and serve approximately 15,700 New Mexico veterans and eligible family members.