In 1862, President Lincoln signed into law legislation authorizing the establishment of national cemeteries.
After the Civil War, search and recovery teams visited hundreds of battlefields, churchyards, plantations and other locations seeking wartime interments that were made in haste. By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Civil War dead were re-interred in 73 national cemeteries.
The National Cemetery Administration has undergone many changes since its inception. In 1873, Congress extended the right of burial in a national cemetery to all honorably discharged Union veterans of the Civil War. By a 1933 Executive Order, certain national cemeteries were transferred from the War Department (now the Department of the Army) to the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior. In June 1973, Public Law 93-43 authorized the transfer of 82 national cemeteries from the Department of the Army to the Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This action combined the 82 army cemeteries with 21 cemeteries already under the VA.
In 1978, Congress established the State Cemetery Grants Program (Public Law 95-476). Administered by the National Cemetery Administration to aid States and U.S. territories in the establishment, expansion and improvement of veterans cemeteries, the State Cemetery Grants Program complements the National Cemetery Administration by providing gravesites for veterans in those areas not adequately served by national cemeteries.
The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado was authorized by the Colorado Legislature in 1999 to honor Colorado veterans. Construction began in June, 2001 and was completed on September 4, 2002. The Cemetery officially opened on September 5, 2002. A total of three interments occurred on that day with the first being that of Aidan J. Quinn, a World War I veteran who was interred in Columbarium 1.
The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado is located on ~ 22.5 acres at 2830 Riverside Parkway, Grand Junction, Colorado, just east of the Grand Junction Regional Center. It has a capacity of 3,337 units, including 1,758 units for casketed remains and 1,579 units for cremated remains (of which 861 are columbarium wall niches). Additionally, there are 775 memorial garden plots available for veterans whose remains were not recovered or were donated to science or are otherwise unavailable for interment.
The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado is intended to be a dignified final resting place for Colorado.
There are memorial walks on either side of the creek running northeast to southwest through the Cemetery. These walks pass by each of the five columbaria in front of which are benches for visitors.
There are landscaped areas for in-ground interments that are characterized by thoughtful placement of trees, shrubs, and other plantings. These areas provide additional places for individual reflection.
The Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado conveys the appreciation of the people of Colorado to its veterans for answering the call of duty and faithfully and honorably serving the United States of America and the State of Colorado.
Eligibility for burial in the cemetery is the same as for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries but includes a residency requirement.