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First Memorial Day at new WNY National Cemetery

photo provided by Jack O'Connor
James O'Connor served in the Navy in Vietnam and was one of the first to be interred in the new WNY National Cemetery in Genesee County earlier this year.

Families of veterans in greater Buffalo, Rochester and Batavia are observing Memorial Day placing flags  and honoring their loved ones at the Western New York National Cemetery for the first time this year.The US Dept. of Veterans Affairs dedicated the cemetery in late November 2020, with the first internments at the end of that year. The 269-acre Pembroke site on Indian Falls Road in Genesee County is planned to serve more than 96,000 veterans and family members in the Buffalo and Rochester area.

Years in the making,  the national cemetery is the first to be located in Western New York.  Previously the nearest option for internment in one was in Bath, NY, some 85 miles- an hour and a half's drive- from the Corfu site,  and roughly 2 hours from Buffalo or Rochester.

With the addition of Western New York, the state currently has six open VA national cemeteries, including: Woodlawn in Elmira, Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga in Schuylerville, Calverton in Calverton, Bath in Bath and Long Island in Farmingdale

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.