Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday delivered remarks commemorating Memorial Day and the recent establishment of New York’s first ever State Veterans Cemetery during the first ceremony hosted at the site by the state.
The cemetery was established earlier this year with the transfer of land ownership from Seneca County to the state and ensures the state can provide dignified burial options for New York’s veterans and their families for generations to come.
“Memorial Day is a sacred reminder of the profound debt of gratitude we owe to our fallen heroes,” Hochul said. “The first State Veterans Cemetery honors brave men and women and the sacrifices they made to defend our freedom, preserve our democracy and ensure our safety, and I am proud to commemorate this commitment to our veterans and their families to ensure they can rest in peace.”
The New York State Veterans Cemetery – Finger Lakes is located on 162 acres in Romulus, Seneca County, situated along Seneca Lake and adjacent to Sampson State Park.
Hochul said the Cemetery holds a special place in the heart of the New York State veterans community, as it is located on the grounds of the former Sampson Naval Training Station and Sampson Air Force Base.
She said these sites were instrumental in training hundreds of thousands of service members during World War II and the Korean War.
Furthermore, the governor said the cemetery’s location near Waterloo – the birthplace of Memorial Day – adds to its historical significance.
Hochul said the New York State Veterans Cemetery – Finger Lakes pays tribute to the brave service members who sacrificed their lives for this state and nation.
“It is a place where families can find solace, and take pride in the service and sacrifices of their loved ones,” she said. “The cemetery stands as a testament to the state’s unwavering commitment to honoring the memory of its veterans, service members and their families.”
The governor said there are more than one thousand veterans interred at the cemetery, representing every conflict from World War II to the present day.
Memorial Day was first recognized on May 5, 1866, in the Village of Waterloo, New York, when veterans and civic leaders marched to the community’s three cemeteries for grave site remembrance services honoring those who had lost their lives in the Civil War. In 1971, Memorial Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday and a National Day of Mourning and remembrance for those who lost their lives serving in the U.S. armed forces.
New York State Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) Commissioner Viviana DeCohen said, “Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by our brave servicemen and women who laid down their lives in defense of our freedom. It is a day to honor their memory, pay tribute to their selflessness, and express our eternal gratitude.
“The inaugural event at the first State Veterans Cemetery in New York is a poignant symbol of our commitment to ensuring a final resting place that befits the heroes who fought for our nation,” she added. “May their legacy forever inspire us to cherish the values they fought for and uphold the ideals they held dear.”
DeCohen said DVS advocates on behalf of New York’s veterans and their families, as individuals and as a group, “to ensure they receive benefits granted by law for service in the United States Uniformed Services.”
For more information about veterans’ benefits, please make an appointment with a DVS Veterans Benefits Advisor by calling 888-838-7697 or visiting the agency’s website.