U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita today issued the following statement after the passage of the Dignified Burial of Veterans Act, S.3202, which transfers and provides for the restoration of Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines to the American Battle Monuments Commission, a cause taken up by 4th District student, Nathaniel Beeler of Avon.
"I would like to congratulate and highlight the work of one young Hoosier, Nathaniel Beeler, of Avon, who lobbied his congressional representation diligently to ensure the American Veterans that are at rest in Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines received the honor they are due. Nathanial made several visits to my offices and those of Senators Lugar and Coats alerting us to the problems facing the cemetery. Nathaniel's tenacity in gaining support for those resting in Clark should give Hoosiers hope that the next generation can do great things," said Rokita.
The Clark Veterans Cemetery is the relocated home for all of the non-World War II dead previously resting at Fort McKinley. In the years following WWII, Fort McKinley had been established as a WWII memorial cemetery WWII and its previous remains were moved to Clark. Clark Cemetery remained under U.S. control for the decades following World War II, and was the final home of over 5,000 American soldiers and civilians. Following the departure of the U.S. Air Force from the Philippines in 1991, Clark became covered by a volcanic eruption burying thousands of these gravesites in volcanic ash. Without clear ownership of the base, cemetery cleanup and upkeep has been subpar since the eruption.
Beeler, 11, resides in Avon, has led grassroots efforts to restore the cemetery throughout Indiana since 2011 while studying about World War II. He also led the Pledge of Allegiance at one of Rokita's town hall events earlier this year.
More information on the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association can be found on their website.
Editors Note: In addition to the transfer of Clark Veterans Cemetery, the Dignified Burial of Veterans Act requires the U.S. Veterans Administration to furnish caskets for deceased veterans lacking both identifiable next-of-kin and sufficient resources.