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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary John Kerry, U.S. Department of State - Delayed Restoration of American Veterans Cemetery in Philippines

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Months after legislation she authored was enacted to restore a neglected American veterans cemetery in the Philippines, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is seeking answers from the State Department regarding the lack of progress in beginning this work. In a recent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Ayotte expressed concerns that the State Department has not yet finalized an agreement with the Filipino government that would allow restoration work to begin at the Clark Veterans Cemetery.

Last year, Senator Ayotte introduced legislation to restore the Clark Veterans Cemetery, which is the final resting place in the Philippines for more than 8,300 U.S. service members and their dependents. Following a volcanic eruption in 1991, the U.S. abandoned nearby Clark Air Force Base, leaving the cemetery covered in ash and overgrown by weeds. Ayotte's legislation, which was signed into law by the president in January 2013, requires the cemetery to be restored and maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

"Clark Veterans Cemetery is sacred ground, and we have a solemn duty as a nation to ensure that the brave Americans buried there have the dignified and well-maintained final resting place that they deserve," Ayotte wrote. "I respectfully request that the State Department complete the agreement with the Philippines regarding Clark Veterans Cemetery at the earliest opportunity so the ABMC can begin their essential work without delay."

AYOTTE LETTER TO SECRETARY KERRY:

August 2, 2013

Dear Secretary Kerry:

On January 11, 2013, President Obama signed into law S. 3202, the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-260). Section 106 of S. 3202 requires the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to restore, operate, and maintain Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines after an agreement is reached between the U.S. and Filipino governments.

Yet, almost seven months after S. 3202 became law, I understand that the U.S. Department of State and the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs have not finalized an agreement that would allow the ABMC to begin its important work.

Clark Veterans Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 8,300 U.S. service members and their dependents. Following a volcanic eruption in 1991, the U.S. abandoned Clark Air Force Base, leaving the cemetery covered in ash and overgrown by weeds. Clark Veterans Cemetery is sacred ground, and we have a solemn duty as a nation to ensure that the brave Americans buried there have the dignified and well-maintained final resting place that they deserve.

I respectfully request that the State Department complete the agreement with the Philippines regarding Clark Veterans Cemetery at the earliest opportunity so the ABMC can begin their essential work without delay.

Thank you for your service to our country and for your attention to this important issue.


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