Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Thompson (both D-Calif.) introduced legislation to restore the historic Mare Island Naval Cemetery, the oldest military cemetery on the West Coast. The legislation would transfer control of the cemetery, which has fallen into disrepair, from the City of Vallejo to the Department of Veterans Affairs to faciliate much-needed repairs and provide ongoing maintaince.
“In its current state, the Mare Island Naval Cemetery is no longer a fitting tribute to the 860 veterans and their families that are buried there,” said Senator Feinstein. “This was originally a Naval cemetery so it makes sense to transfer control back to the federal government to ensure it’s properly repaired and maintained. We need to restore this historic cemetery, not just to honor the veterans buried there, but to show all veterans that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
“The Mare Island Cemetery is an historic monument to the sacrifice of the hundreds of fallen American heroes buried there,” said Congressman Thompson. “As their final resting place, it is a sanctuary for our veterans and must be restored to its full beauty and potential. I am honored to reintroduce my bill to transfer control to the VA so it can be repaired without placing a financial burden on the city of Vallejo. I look forward to continuing our fight with local advocates, including Colonel Nestor Aliga, United States Army, Retired, and Captain Ralph Parrot, United States Navy, Retired, to achieve final passage—a solution to fully honor our veterans.”
The Mare Island Naval Cemetery is the final resting place for 860 veterans, including three Medal of Honor recipients, and Anna Arnold Key, the daughter of Francis Scott Key. It was part of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard that closed in 1993. Since then, the cemetery has fallen into deep disrepair—gravestones are toppled over, broken, or sunken into the ground, serious drainage issues persist, and plants and weeds are overgrown.
This legislation would transfer control of the cemetery from the City of Vallejo to the VA and place it specifically under the purview of the National Cemetery Administration. The VA would pay no fee to acquire the land but would assume the obligation of maintaining the cemetery in the future.
The bill has been previously endorsed by AMVETS, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Navy League, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and thousands of veterans across the country.
In addition to Feinstein, the Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
In addition to Thompson, the House bill is cosponsored by Representatives Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Duncan Hunter (D-Calif.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.),Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Anne Kuster (D-N.H.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).