In 2015, Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, and former Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, began working with their fellow veterans and citizens along with state and federal officials to have a cemetery in Ardmore for Oklahoma’s fallen heroes. Their dream was signed into law in 2017 under Senate Bill 543 and this week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) awarded a nearly $7.4 million grant to establish a State Veterans Cemetery in Ardmore.
“We are thrilled that Oklahoma has received this tremendous gift that will help us provide our state’s veterans with a beautiful final resting place that honors their bravery, their service and their sacrifice to our great nation,” Simpson said. “I want to thank our fellow veterans, the City of Ardmore, the Oklahoma and U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and the many Oklahomans who advocated on behalf of our state’s heroes.”
The grant will be used to construct the 12-acre cemetery southwest of the Ardmore Veterans Center. The cemetery will have space for approximately 25,571 veterans and their eligible family members. The grant will fund the construction of various burial options, an assembly area, the main entrance, an administrative building, a maintenance facility, a memorial walkway and other necessary parts of the burial grounds.
“This is going to mean so much to Oklahoma’s veterans and their families. To have such a beautiful place of honor as one’s final resting place is special; and their service and sacrifice will forever be honored and remembered,” Ownbey said. “We want to thank everyone who helped this dream become a reality and look forward to continuing to work and see it come to fruition.”
This will be the state’s first veteran cemetery operated by the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA). There is currently one state-owned cemetery, which is located in Oklahoma City and operated by the Oklahoma Military Department.