More Families Choosing Cremation

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by Levi Newman on March 16, 2011

More than ever, veterans are opting for cremation while national cemeteries add more space. For families, cremation means more time and mobility with the ashes. The addition of burial spots is part of the largest push since the Civil War, according to VA officials.

Nationwide, about 38 percent of veterans choose cremation. In Florida, about double that figure choose it over burial. For one, families do not have to make a decision as they would when a body is prepared for burial. Families only have a few days to make arrangements for a traditional burial.

Also, ashes and urns are more easily moved from one cemetery to another. Given the ease and frequency of moves nowadays, this mobility is a money saver. Caskets are not cheap to move. The trend is not exclusive to fallen heroes.

U.S. data proves that cremations’ popularity has grown significantly since 1976 when 6 percent of funeral services involved cremation. By 2002, that percentage increased to 27 percent. Last year, it was 35 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

Of course, cremated remains occupy far less space than caskets. Furthermore, they can be buried in urns or kept above ground. Veterans’ urns often get ornamented with military insignias. The trend toward cremations comes on the heels of cemeteries around the country adding burial sites of all kinds.

Sarasota National Cemetery is a shining example. After its creation two years ago, the cemetery is getting $15.9 million to add more 27,000 spaces. Set to be complete by summer 2012 the additions include 11,500 casket sites, 9,000 in-ground burial plots for urns and 7,000 above-ground spots for urns.

The cemetery in Sarasota is one of six new ones that popped up in the last three years. Plans for more national cemeteries are under way, said Chris Erbe, spokesman for the VA. The 2003 National Cemetery Expansion Act called on the VA to build national cemeteries where there are large veteran populations. In addition to Sarasota, Philadelphia, Bakersfield, Calif. And Birmingham, Ala. are home to new burial sites. Erbe said the construction of new cemeteries is not the result of a space shortage, just a bigger plan.

 

Photo thanks to Sheena 2.0™ under creative common license on Flickr.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna Snyder March 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm

My husband died of a 100% service connected disability he is buried at Fort Huachucka army base in AZ. as his widow, I would like to be cremated and my ashes be with him However I am in Ohio now living with my daughter would the V.A pay for my urn to be shipped to AZ.? THANK YOU

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Jordan Lindberg June 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

There are a number of military-specific themed cremation urns available on the market today. In addition to engraving and personalization of the urn, consider the option of adding a specific service emblem. Another nice option comes in the form of combination urn-and-flag cases that can attractively display both a folded U.S. flag and the ashes in a single display. I own a memorial company and so am aware of the range of options out there — usually many more than people are aware exist.

(Audrey — I’m an MU graduate, too — go Tigers!)

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Audrey Beebe June 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Jorday,
Thanks for the extra info. Sometimes a plain urn suits a person best, but it is nice to know that there are other, more decorative or personalized options.

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