Maine veterans’ cemetery going green

A project set to begin this fall for 554 pre-placed crypts at the Southern Maine Veterans’ Cemetery will also include 234 “green burial” graves that will be created.  According to this article from the Journal Times, cemetery superintendent Scott Brown commented that, “It will be the first state (veterans) cemetery in the nation to have this.”  The article went on to mention that three national veterans cemeteries are also preparing to have this option — in Colorado, New York, and Puerto Rico.

The expansion at the Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery, located in Springvale,  is part of a $2 million grant that was awarded to the cemetery through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetery Grants Program.  The grant was recently announced by Maine U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

The article states that “the green option will mean the type of burial akin to how people were interred before the American Civil War. . . . .That means free of chemicals – no embalming fluids – no concrete, or metal or fiberglass.  Remains may be placed in a shroud on a burial plank, in a wicker casket, or in a wooden casket, so long as it is joined with dowels, and not metal nails”, according to Brown.

According to the National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) web-site, the state of Maine has two national veterans cemeteries of which neither has space for burials remaining.  In addition, they have five state operated cemeteries of which one is the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Veterans Cemetery.

Again, according to the NCA web-site,  “even though they may have been established or improved with government funds through the VA’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, state veterans cemeteries are run solely by the states.”

Funeral Director Daily take:  We do believe that one of the over-riding or “megatrends” in the future of the death care business is the thought of environmentally thoughtful disposition of the human body.  We believe that may take place in the description for burial as above, or more than likely, the placement of cremated remains in a non-cemetery park-like setting, including forests.  It may also take place in the increased use of alkaline hydrolysis that will be marketed as water cremation, flameless cremation, or green cremation.

From our perspective, we don’t think that this will be the last state veterans’ cemetery that will create or block off a section in preparation for full-body green burials.

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