Friday, December 7, 2007

Sarasota National Cemetery

The Sarasota National Cemetery Advisory Committee, appointed by former Congresswoman Katherine Harris, was established on December 18, 2003. The Committee was re-appointed by Congressman Vern Buchanan on May 21, 2007. The Advisory Committee has incorporated and is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

The Committee's purpose is to facilitate the establishment of a National Cemetery in the Sarasota County area. The Committee has since its inception worked with the National Cemeteries Administration, Office of Construction Management to locate suitable sites for a national cemetery. After a lengthy process of site selection the Hawkins Ranch was selected as the preferred site for the new national cemetery. The Hawkins Ranch site was purchased in April, 2007. Following the land purchase was the design of the cemetery in FY 2007 followed by its construction in FY 2008. The Sarasota National Cemetery was dedicated on June 1, 2008 with over 3,000 attendees. At the dedication ceremony were Under Secretary for Memorial Affair William R. Turk, Congressman Vern Buchanan and former Congresswoman Katherine Harris. The cemetery held its first burials on January 9, 2009. This historic event was attended by a small group of veterans who assisted with the burials of their fellow veterans.

The Director of the Sarasota VA National Cemetery is Ms. Sandra Beckley. She may be reached at (941) 861-9840.

Sarasota National Cemetery Advisory Committee
Dr. Richard M. Swier, LTC, USA (Ret.)
Vice Chair
LTC Lee F. Kichen, USA (Ret.)
Committee Members
Donald L. Courtney, Manatee County Veterans
George Mazzarantani, Law Offices of George H.
Mazzarantani, P.A.
LeRoy Collins, Jr., Executive Director,
Florida Department of Veterans Affairs
John Degnan, Chair, Charlotte County Veterans Council
Commissioner Shannon Staub, Sarasota Board of County
Jason Toale, Toale Brothers Funeral Homes.

Interested individuals may contact the Committee Chair, Dr. Richard M. Swier, at (941) 923-2541 or via e-mail at

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