A wave of patriotism has swept across America in the wake of the war in the Persian Gulf, and it is no different in Utah, a spokesman for the Utah state parks said Monday.
Utah's newest state park is located just off Redwood Road between Bluffdale and Lehi, and like all the other state parks, it features the American flag on its flagpole, said Mark Hadley, a state parks spokesman.But this state park is different than most, he said. It honors the state's veterans and features a five-story chapel that overlooks a cemetery.
"But the Utah Veterans' Memorial State Park is not just a cemetery," said sexton Marc Benjamin. "The park has been established for anything that's in keeping with our national heritage."
The park is comprised of three buildings linked by a common patio in the center of a 30-acre piece of land. The buildings include a museum-administration center and the uniquely structured chapel.
The museum will be completed this spring and will house displays related to Utah's colorful military past, Benjamin said. The first display will feature World War II artifacts, while future displays will highlight topics such as Johnson's Army and the Mormon Battalion. The displays will change about every six months.
"Before the park was opened, Utah was one of the few states that didn't have a state veterans' cemetery," Benjamin said, explaining the park's significance. The closure of the cemetery at Fort Douglas to new burials left Utah veterans without a cemetery, except for a portion of the Salt Lake City Cemetery open only for veterans.
Veterans, spouses and dependent children may be interred at the Utah Veterans' Memorial, and 56 veterans and four spouses have been interred since the initial phase of development was completed and the park officially opened last July.
The next phase of development will begin this spring and includes additional development of the cemetery, construction of a reflecting pool, an "avenue of flags," a columbarium, and the planting of additional trees and shrubbery. An organ and sound system and additional seating will be added to the chapel, Benjamin said.