Originally created 08/04/98

New veterans cemetery may be built in Atlanta



MARIETTA, Ga. -- Georgia lawmakers have introduced legislation for a new metro Atlanta veterans cemetery.

The bill, which is being sponsored by Speaker Newt Gingrich and fellow Republican Bob Barr, was presented to the House Monday. It would create the second veterans cemetery in metro Atlanta, the third in the state.

U.S. Sen. Max Cleland said legislation sponsored by him and U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell would also be introduced to the Senate.

The site has not been picked, but Mr. Cleland said the lawmakers would like the cemetery to last for 75 years and aren't sure how much land that would involve.

Georgia has nearly 700,000 veterans, with more than 400,000 living in the Atlanta area, Mr. Cleland said. The veterans cemetery in Marietta has been full since 1970. The only other such cemetery in Georgia is in southwest Georgia at Andersonville.

Mr. Cleland, a freshman Democrat, announced plans for the legislation Monday alongside Mr. Coverdell and Mr. Barr at Marietta National Cemetery.

"Sadly, the access of many veterans in Georgia to military burial has been blocked due to the lack of a national cemetery near their homes and the homes of their loved ones," Mr. Barr said. "This situation is inexcusable, and we must take steps to immediately remedy it."

Mr. Cleland said in June that he wanted to revive a plan initiated while he was head of the Veterans Administration two decades ago to create a new national veterans cemetery in Atlanta.