Land For Cemetery Transferred To Veterans' Administration

The land that will house the Bakersfield National Cemetery was handed over to the Veterans' Administration Friday morning.

Tejon Ranch donated 500 acres in the northeast portion of the land they own for the new national cemetery, slated to open in spring 2009.

"We just thought this was a great opportunity for us to do our small share and give back to the veterans of the armed forces," Tejon Ranch CEO Bob Stine said.

Leaders were happy about the land that was selected for the cemetery, which provides a serene setting for those who fought and died for freedom.

"You look at this property, you look at these oak trees, these mountains, it's probably the most beautiful place in all of Kern County," Congressman Kevin McCarthy said.

"And for people from all across America who have risked their lives for us and fallen, this will be their resting place."

The national cemetery will provide free burials for veterans and eligible family members.

Many veterans admitted they thought this was a day that would never come.

"It's phenomenal to see people I served with, people like my late father, fathers of my friends that were veterans and served," Dick Taylor, a veteran, said. "And now they'll have a place to be buried."

"The veterans in this area have been waiting for 5, 6, 7 yrs, some you talk to even 20 years," Wesley Jones, the cemetery's director added.

"Today is the first time we can honestly say without any doubt that we're coming."

A public dedication and groundbreaking ceremony is set for December 7, which is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.