Arkansas State Veterans Birdeye Cemetery is now nationally distinguished, after receiving an award for operational excellence from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
“There are only four cemeteries this year that are receiving this recognition for their operational excellence, the appearance of the cemetery, how they do cemetery operations. And how most importantly, how they serve an honor with dignity, those who have worn the cloth of our nation,” said Randy Reeves, of the US Department of Memorial Affairs.
“It’s a great reminder for the people of Arkansas that this facility is here…that it’s an option. We take pride in it. And if you’re not a veteran, this is just a place you can come and pay respects to veterans, and those who’ve served our country,” added Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison.
Richard Hartness, a veteran, sees it as a huge honor.
“Really nice venue, and if you’re a veteran, all you got to do is qualify with a DDD-14, and you can rest out here, with some of this band of brothers.”
Birdeye Cemetery director Mary Anne Parker says that preparing for operational excellence is highly involved.
“They want to go into your shop and see that you have enough oil filters to be able to service all of your vehicles…check your equipment logs on that for the last six months. It’s really a lot that goes into it. We just stay on top of it every day and look for ways to do it better.”
Ultimately, it’s all about the veterans, and their families.
“People that come here know that it’s always going to look like this. And that Dad and Mom are going to be taken care of….And that’s really the most important thing to us, is that when they come in the gate, they see the beauty, and they know that you know…that we’re respecting their veterans,” added Parker.
All Birdeye veterans receive a free burial in honor of their service.