posted on May 01, 2012 16:59
In the past few weeks, at various meetings of The Military Coalition (TMC), the subject of the Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines has come up as well as legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to get proper maintenance of it for America’s servicemen buried there. From 1900 to 1991, the United States maintained the cemetery there which holds more than 8,000 service members and dependents buried there (including over 2,200 veterans). However, in 1991 a volcanic eruption led Clark Air Force to have to be abandoned, including the remains of the individuals buried at the Clark Veteran Cemetery. Since then, the cemetery has fallen under disrepair, with volcanic ash covering tombstones and markers and overgrowth of plants and grass due to the cemetery being unattended for over two decades. Volunteers have attempted to maintain the cemetery, but thorough attention is needed in order to give the cemetery and inhabitants the proper and due honor it deserves.
Representative Frank Guinta (R-NH-01) has introduced H.R. 4168, the Caring for the Fallen Act, and Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced S. 2320, the Remembering America’s Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act of 2012, which seeks to designate the American Battlefields Monuments Commission (ABMC) with the responsibility of caring for the cemetery, and authorizes it to make necessary arrangements to ensure its on-going maintenance. In a press release, Senator Ayotte noted that, “The American veterans buried in Clark Veterans Cemetery deserve a dignified and well-maintained final resting place, and it's time for the U.S. government to fulfill its responsibility to care for this sacred ground.”
AUSN sent the following letter to both Senator Ayotte’s office and Representative Guinta’s office (respectively), addressing AUSN’s support for their legislative efforts regarding the Clark Veterans Cemetery.
The Honorable Kelly Ayotte (NH)
United States Senate
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Ayotte,
On behalf of the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), we applaud and support your bill S. 2320, the Remembering America’s Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act of 2012, which directs the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to provide for the ongoing maintenance of Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines.
The Clark Veterans Cemetery, which holds the remains of over 8,300 members of the U.S. Armed Services and their dependents, has come under serious neglect. The evacuation of Clark Air Force base in 1991 resulted in this unfortunate situation and since that time has yet to receive any custodial attention from the ABMC. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2485 has been maintaining this cemetery through voluntary efforts and donations but is in need of Federal funding and assistance. The service members interred here deserve the same honor and respect as any other deceased veteran.
By introducing the Remembering America’s Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act of 2012, you have shown great honor to those who served and are buried at the Clark Veterans Cemetery. Federal maintenance of this cemetery in the Philippines will show that the United States cares for those who sacrifice life and limb for this nation. Additionally, it will exhibit ongoing care for service members; showing that even long after veterans have passed, they will always be remembered for their service to this nation.
Thank you for taking an active role in such an important issue to the military community by introducing legislation that will continue to honor those fallen overseas. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at 703-548-5800.
Anthony A. Wallis
Legislative Director, AUSN
Please continue to contact your Representatives and Senators and voice your concerns by using our Contact Congress feature and help get the word out. This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK effort and your grassroots advocacy will help make the changes that need to happen!