VA buys land in Crown Hill Cemetery for columbarium

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has purchased 14.75 acres in Crown Hill Cemetery to establish a columbarium.

The VA said Thursday afternoon that it bought the land for $810,000 from the not-for-profit Crown Hill Cemetery Inc.

A columbarium is an above-ground structure in which cremated remains are inurned. The facility will be built on the north side of the 555-acre cemetery and initially provide 2,500 niches for veterans, their spouses and eligible family members. At least 25,000 niches will be added in future development.

“We are proud to begin this important first step to bring a new national cemetery presence to Indianapolis to serve the community’s veterans, their spouses and families,” Robert A. McDonald, secretary of veterans affairs, said in a written statement. “Our cemeteries are national treasures and sacred shrines that honor the brave men and women who sacrificed for our country.”

The VA will construct a main entrance wall and gate on 42nd Street that will lead to the cemetery. The cemetery will feature natural and ornamental plantings, flagpoles, a funeral cortege parking area, a shelter building, a plaza for memorial monument donations, a memorial wall and an electronic gravesite locator.

The VA will develop the cemetery as part of its “Urban Initiative” to improve access to burial benefits for veterans, their spouses and families. Similar cemeteries are planned in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Alameda, California.

The Crown Hill columbarium will become the third open VA national cemetery in Indiana; the others are in Marion and New Albany.

The VA operates 132 national cemeteries in 40 states and Puerto Rico that hold the remains of more than 4 million Americans.

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