ALLIANCE — A ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 18 to celebrate the completion of a windbreak project at the Nebraska State Veterans Cemetery. The ceremony is set for 2 p.m.
“The suggestion for a windbreak had been floating around for quite some time,” memorial service coordinator James Goodwin said.
The Nebraska State Veterans Cemetery at Alliance Foundation decided to take on the project and began fundraising.
“We had several golf tournaments and a lot of donations,” he said.
On May 27, 2019, when the cemetery held it’s Memorial Day ceremony, the foundation presented staff with a $140,000 donation. Officials broke ground and construction began in July.
“They got it finished last month,” Goodwin said.
The same architecture and engineering firm that provided the initial design for the cemetery, Schemmer, also designed the windbreak. According to the company’s portfolio, the goal of the project was to create an enclosure around the committal shelter that seamlessly blended with the structure. The windbreak is a mix of material, including bricks and glass panels.
Goodwin, who is retired from the Air Force, said he is passionate about being able to honor veterans in the way they deserve, as well as supporting their families through the funeral process.
“To have that big sigh at the end of a service, and the family looks at you and says, ‘Thank you, it meant so much that you went through this with us,’ it’s a good feeling,” he said.
The windbreak will make the process of burying a loved one in cold weather more tolerable, he said.
“When the weather gets extreme and the wind is blowing, this will make it so we can still have services at the shelter,” he said. “We’ve also got lap blankets that were made and donated by DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and the Legion Auxiliary.”
He said he’s been grateful for the community’s support both for the project and the cemetery as a whole.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It has been from the onset — even in the beginning, getting the money to have the cemetery constructed. The community has been there since day one.”
The cemetery in Alliance is the only veterans cemetery in the area.
“The nearest facilities are either Fort McPherson (Maxwell, Nebraska) or Black Hills National Cemetery (Sturgis, South Dakota),” Goodwin said. “We’re very fortunate to have this facility, because the veterans are getting the honor that is due to them right here in the Panhandle.”