The history of the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona

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Many families spent Memorial Day at grave sites, paying respect to loved ones who served
in the military. We spoke with Randy Heard, the Director of the National Memorial Cemetery,
about the history of that Phoenix Cemetery, and some of the changes implemented due to the
COVID pandemic.

How did the National Memorial Cemetery come about?

“A state law was passed in 1976, signed by the governor for the development of a state cemetery. The dedication was on December 9, 1978, and the first burial occurred, March 9, 1979. And that was turned over to the end to the VA on April 1, 1989. So it was originally a veteran state cemetery. So there’s a lot of history here. And there’s a lot of heroes here, it’s very important to the state of Arizona, and to the nation for that matter, you know, they have these heroes here and to be able to honor them appropriately,” Heard said.

How does the memorial public ceremony look this year as opposed to pre-pandemic years?

“This year it’s going to be very similar to last year, there will be no public ceremony. There will be a virtual, both at Prescott, and at the National Cemetery, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, and we will do a wreath-laying that will be open to the public, we will have a military honor and we will pay our respects but unfortunately due to the pandemic, we won’t be able to have a public ceremony this year,” Heard said.

Are masks still required while visiting the premises?

“We are asking those that are not fully vaccinated, to wear masks. And if it’s been more than two weeks since your final vaccination. You’re not required to wear masks. That’s for employees and for guests. So, and that’s changing. You know by the minute, pretty much,” Heard said.

What do the services look like right now in regards to COVID?

“Our services were restricted to 50 or less public gatherings, we just ask that you be safe, social distance. That’s the only thing that’s important to us is the safety of our visitors and our staff so we just ask that you maintain your distance and if you’re safe to stay home, obviously, and just, you know, be safe about the visitation,” Heard said.

Randy Heard, Director, National Memorial Cemetery of AZ

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