Subject: Hillcrest Memorial Park creates an opportunity for burying the cremated remains of American veterans and their spouses in the Avenue of 444 Flags.
On Veterans Day, November 11, Hillcrest Memorial Park will initiate a new burial service that combines an ancient burial method with modern technology to honor and memorialize American veterans who have been cremated.
“The cremated remains of most people are never buried,” said Hillcrest owner Tom Flynn. “That might not be a problem at first, but eventually the generation of people who knew and loved them will pass. What happens to those remains then? They most likely will be stored somewhere out of sight or be lost and forgotten.”
Hillcrest Memorial Park will offer an alternative: to bury the cremated remains of veterans and their spouses in one of the most beautiful and patriotic sites in the country – among the 444 flags surrounding the War on Terror Memorial. First raised during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, the flags continue to fly as a symbol of freedom, and as a tribute to the veterans who have secured that freedom.
Along with the burial site to preserve the remains of some of those veterans, Hillcrest will establish a web site to preserve the memories of their lives and service. A permanent web page for each veteran will include his or her biographical and military service information, personal tributes, and photos. For those whose families who prefer to limit access to that information, all or part of it can be password-protected.
To make the most of the space, Hillcrest is developing the area around the War on Terror Memorial into an ossuary. An ossuary is a site in which the remains of more than one person can be interred. Used for centuries in countries with large populations and limited burial space, ossuaries are being established in many American cemeteries as cremation becomes more widespread and as space becomes more limited. Because of its spatial economy, Hillcrest’s ossuary will allow many veterans and spouses to rest beneath the 444 flags.
Hillcrest’s unique approach is to bore vertically as deep as 60 feet into the ground and insert cylinders, sealed at the bottom. The remains of each person, in their urns or special containers, will be solemnly lowered individually into one of the cylinders. When the cylinder is full, it will be sealed on top and covered over with sod. The location of the remains of each person will be recorded. That information will be available to anyone who wishes to visit the site.
This unique approach will allow Hillcrest to designate different cylinders for servicemen and women from each of the armed forces – Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy.
On Veterans Day, November 11, 2012, at 11 a.m. – the same time and day as the signing of the treaty that ended World War I – Hillcrest will inter the cremated remains of 50 veterans and their spouses at no cost, and will establish their web pages online, also at no cost. The interments will take place during a ceremony with full military honors.
“I encourage families to take advantage of this opportunity,” Flynn said. “To be among the first to be buried there will be quite an honor.”
Those interested should contact Hillcrest Memorial Park at 724-346-3818 as soon as possible.
To maintain the dignity of the site and the honor of those interred there, families will need to provide documentation of the identity of the remains, as well as a DD-214 or other papers certifying the deceased’s honorable military service.
“We invite family and friends of those being buried, as well as others who wish to honor them, to attend the ceremony,” Flynn said.
In the future, the cremated remains of veterans and their spouses will be buried among the flags at a small fraction of the cost of traditional funerals. That cost will include the establishment of a permanent memorial web page.