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Centre County Commissioners Decide on Resting Place for Two Unclaimed Veterans

The Centre County Board of Commissioners recently made a decision on the final resting place for two unclaimed military veterans.

Centre County Director of Veterans Affairs Brian Querry on May 7 presented the commissioners with two options for the unclaimed veterans’ cremains, with the first being Centre County’s columbarium in Union Cemetery and the second being Indiantown Gap National Cemetery’s columbarium in Annville.

After consideration, the commissioners unanimously decided to select Indiantown Gap National Cemetery as the final resting place for the veterans.

“I’ve been out in the community over the last week, and I’ve had the chance to ask three veterans the hypothetical question that if they had a buddy who passed away with no family, no close friends and no one claimed the remains, what would they prefer?” Commissioner Chair Mark Higgins said. “All three of them said, ‘Well, a national cemetery would be really nice because if I passed away and there was absolutely no one to claim me, I’d at least be with some of my buddies.’”

Both of the veterans will receive military honors and will be interred in the columbarium at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. However, Querry noted that if the cremains were to be claimed, the family could still receive them from the national cemetery.

“If that would come up, either option you choose, we could still provide that to the family. If it comes up in the future, those cremains could be pulled back and done with the wishes of the family,” Querry emphasized.

Commissioner Steve Dershem noted the importance of honoring these veterans by giving them a proper final resting place and celebrating their service.

“This is the kind of thing that you don’t normally think about being a responsibility, but making sure that we provide a final resting place for our folks is really important, and that’s something we maybe take for granted,” Dershem noted.

According to a press release from the BOC, Indiantown Gap National Cemetery was named for its various Indigenous communities that originally inhabited the area. The state of Pennsylvania donated 677 acres to the Veterans Association to be used as a national cemetery. The United States National Cemetery System was established during the American Civil War as an authority to create multiple military burial places during the war and has now expanded into a network of 164 cemeteries.

Union Cemetery in Bellefonte was established in 1795, with burials reportedly starting in 1808 and the cemetery being officially chartered in 1856. Union Cemetery plays a key role in Centre County history as the resting place for many important founders and figures.