PRESTON, Minn. - The pathways at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery are clear, safe, and ready for burial services. During the blizzard last week, staff snowshoed roughly a mile from the gates to their maintenance shed so they could begin clearing the grounds. Within days of the heavy snowfall, they hosted casket burials.
Cemetery Administrator Robert Gross says the cemetery staff embrace working through difficult weather conditions without complaint because they recognize the difficulties the population they serve already endured. "Being in the military, being veterans, myself being a veteran, didn't have the choice. If it was cold, they were completing the mission. If it was raining, they were completing the mission. If it was 120 degrees, they were completing the mission," he says.
Gross also gives a nod to plow drivers and first responders for making the roads and clear and save during the extreme weather so that staff could make it to work.
The cemetery doesn't install headstones from winter burials because the snow and ice prevent them from placing them to their standard. The cemetery's goal is to have them set by Memorial Day, but that is weather dependent.