The Biloxi National Cemetery is quickly running out of space for new burials. As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the cemetery’s leadership and local vets are looking for ways to change that.
On a weekday afternoon, it’s quiet at the Biloxi National Cemetery, with just the distant sound of nearby construction to break the stillness. Uniform rows of white monuments stretch in all directions.
The cemetery has been a final resting place for veterans since 1934, but cemetery director Graham Wright says, at the current rate, it will run out of room for casket burials in about six years.
“As far as cremations go, we will probably have 20 to 30 years of cremation space, no matter what," he says.
Nearly 23,000 veterans and family members are interred at the Biloxi National Cemetery. An average of 830 funerals take place every year.
Wright says the National Cemetery Administration has been actively looking for additional room in the area, but the cemetery is not currently slated for expansion.
"Biloxi doesn't have a lot of room obviously, because it is growing in and of itself," he says. "But it is still one of the things we're looking at, is other places where we could possibily expand."
Wright says he’s also looking at options such as moving utilities, to make more space in the existing cemetery. James Corley is commander of the Biloxi VFW. He thinks an option might be to return Hiller Park, which he says was donated to Biloxi several decades ago, or some other adjacent land back to the V-A.
"These are options that we would love to see because we don’t want to the national cemetery fill up and not be able to accommodate our veterans," Corley says.
The National Cemetery Administration is undergoing a major expansion, with a final goal of ensuring 96 percent of veterans have access to a burial option within 75 miles of home.