By Susan Andreas-Bervel
contributing writer 

Bakersfield National Cemetery presents to Rotary

Rotary Club of Tehachapi

 

May 11, 2024



Susan Andreas-Bervel.

To thank Yolanda Crowe for making a presentation on behalf of the Bakersfield National Cemetery, President Jennifer Palakiko presented her with a certificate and $100 was donated to the Rotary Foundation in her honor.

On May 2, the Tehachapi Rotary Club welcomed Yolanda Crowe, administrative officer at the Bakersfield National Cemetery. Crowe is a 20-year veteran of the United States Navy, and worked at the National Cemetery in Riverside for 13 years, before relocating to Kern County in 2023.

The Bakersfield National Cemetery is located on Bear Mountain Road, on land donated by Tejon Ranch. Although the entire cemetery property encompasses 500 acres, currently only 50 acres are developed and used, allowing for room to expand in the future. The cemetery is still fairly new, opening in 2009. Before that, there was no national cemetery from Riverside to San Francisco, which created a hardship for families to travel great distances for a final resting place for veterans. Since the Bakersfield National Cemetery was established, it allows families to honor and lay to rest their loved ones in a beautiful and peaceful setting.

Crowe gave some interesting history on how the national cemeteries were established in the 1860s by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. President Lincoln promised that the nation would ensure all soldiers who had served would be provided with a place to be laid to rest with honor in recognition of their service and sacrifice to their country.

One of the challenges the cemeteries currently face is that many World War II and Vietnam veterans are unaware of their right to be buried in a national cemetery. In addition to the veteran, those rights also extend to the spouse, and dependent disabled children. Another challenge is when the veteran or family cannot locate the necessary discharge papers to access their rights. Crowe stated that the family only needs to call their 1-800 number, speak to an agent and provide as much information as they can. This will initiate an archive search to locate the necessary information, so the veteran can be laid to rest in a national cemetery. She said they work very hard to help the veterans and their families, so the promise made by President Lincoln so many years ago remains fulfilled.

Crowe also said she helps family members to use the veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM), an online digital platform. She shows the families how they can upload information and pictures of their veteran. This allows the family to preserve the history, the legacy and the sacrifice of their loved one and to share those contributions with generations to come.

Although the cemetery is still on the first 50 acres, there are plans for expansion beginning in 2026. One area that is targeted in the planning phase is accessibility. The beauty of the terrain is what makes the location special, and they are working to balance the foothill location with keeping it user friendly for visitors.

With the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May, there are several special events taking place at the Bakersfield National Cemetery. On Thursday, May 23, the flag holders will be put in place on each grave. On Saturday, May 25, beginning at 8 a.m., the flags will be placed and a ceremony held. On Tuesday, May 28, the flags will all be collected.

The Rotary Club of Tehachapi is a volunteer service organization with the motto, "Service Above Self." The Club meets at Kelcy's on Thursdays at noon. For more information about Rotary Club, you can visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofTehachapi/.

 
 

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