Legislature Approves Nozzolio Bill To Establish Veterans’ Cemetery

Michael F. Nozzolio

September 06, 2008

Albany - State Senator Michael Nozzolio (R-Fayette) and State Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle (D-Irondequoit) have announced that their joint legislation to establish a Veterans’ cemetery at the former Sampson Naval and Air Force Base in Seneca County has been approved by their respective houses of the State legislature. The legislation was adopted by the Senate earlier this month and was adopted by the Assembly late Tuesday night, with only two days left in the 2007 legislative session. The legislation will now be sent to Governor Spitzer for his signature.

“This legislation was adopted in a bi-partisan spirit and I want to thank Assemblymen Joe Morelle for his leadership and for partnering with me in our fight to ensure that our dream of creating the State’s first Veteran’s cemetery becomes a reality,” said Senator Nozzolio.

“We owe our military veterans a great debt of gratitude for their service,” Assemblyman Morelle said. “They sacrifice so much, and risk so much, on our behalf, and this is one small measure of our respect for them. I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their support, and especially thank Senator Nozzolio for his commitment to making this a reality.”

“The passage of this important legislation is a critical step to insure that our Veterans have the opportunity to be buried in a place of honor,” said State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R,C,I –Canandaigua), who co-sponsored the legislation in the Assembly. “This site in Seneca County with its historical significance to our country is uniquely and appropriately the right choice for the creation of this Veterans cemetery.”

Senator Nozzolio has committed over $500,000 in New York State funding in an effort to create a Veterans cemetery as the final resting place for our military heroes. The legislation approved by the Legislature will allow Seneca County to take authority over land that has been designated for the Veterans cemetery.

The site of the proposed cemetery, the Sampson United States Naval and Air Force Base, served as a naval training station during World War II and was later used as an Air Force Basic Training Center. Constructed in 1942, Sampson trained over 400,000 naval recruits during its years of operation.
Sailors trained at Sampson fought and participated in every major battle of World War II. During the Korean War the property was converted to the Sampson Air Force Base and over 300,000 airmen received their basic training there from 1950 until 1956. The Sampson Memorial Naval Museum and Air Force Museum are currently located at the site.

Creation of a veterans' cemetery on the former Sampson Naval and Air Force base has been one of the highest legislative priorities for many veterans ‘groups throughout New York State. Over the years, New York State Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Korean Vets, New York State Council of Veterans Organizations, the Sampson WW-2 Navy Veterans and Sampson Air Force Veterans have all advocated on behalf of the development of a cemetery at Sampson.

All honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and dependent children will be eligible for burial at the proposed cemetery. The guidelines for the cemetery will be based on federal veteran cemetery standards. This will include opening and closing of the graves, perpetual upkeep and maintenance, government headstone or marker, burial flag and presidential certificate.

Nozzolio and Morelle agreed that the location of the cemetery is particularly fitting.

“It is especially rewarding to know that this site, where young men and women once trained to defend our nation, will now serve as a placed of eternal honor and rest,” Morelle said. "I'm proud that upstate New York is home to such an historic site."

“Throughout our nation’s history, veterans have made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our democracy,” said Senator Nozzolio. “The Sampson site is a place of hallowed ground, where over three quarters of a million Americans were trained to defend and preserve our freedom. These Americans trained at Sampson to serve America and the country they loved. America’s veterans are our true heroes, and this cemetery will be a lasting tribute and place of honor where they will be appropriately remembered,” concluded Nozzolio.