Tester at Yellowstone cemetery dedication: We must not forget
Senator delivers keynote speech dedicating county burial grounds as national cemetery
(LAUREL, Mont.) – Under clear, blue, Memorial Day skies, Senator Jon Tester today delivered the keynote speech at the dedication of the Yellowstone National Cemetery.
Tester, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, worked with local veterans groups and officials, as well as two Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, to bring national recognition to the burial grounds.
“The veterans buried here – and those who will be laid to rest long after we depart – were prepared to give their lives for the country they loved and the freedoms they stood for,” Tester said. “And now, all Americans can celebrate the service and sacrifice of those who make these grounds their final resting place.”
The VA’s Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, Steve Muro, Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy and Senator John Walsh – the only combat veteran from the war in Iraq serving in the Senate – joined Tester at today’s ceremony.
In his remarks, Tester said proper recognition for Montana’s veterans would ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten.
“Why do we remember? We remember because forgetting the lives and accomplishments of our military men and women would dishonor their sacrifices,” Tester said. “And forgetting what they sacrificed would shed us of the responsibility of asking ourselves a critical question: could we do what they did?”
Tester, who has served on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee since his first day in the Senate, began working with the VA and local veterans’ groups to designate Yellowstone as a national cemetery in 2007. He brought then-VA Secretary James Peake to Montana in 2008 and current VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in 2011. He also worked to secure funding for the VA’s rural veterans cemetery initiative and pushed the department to prioritize recognition for the burial grounds at Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone National Cemetery will occupy just over ten acres located along Buffalo Trail Road north of Laurel.
A timeline of his record on the Yellowstone National Cemetery is available HERE.