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Push Begins to Name New Veterans' Cemetery After "Wild Bill"

Corfu, NY (WBEN) - Senator Chuck Schumer was near Pembroke on Monday, bringing with him the answer to a regional problem.

"We have so many hundreds of thousands of veterans," Schumer said. "It was an insult to Western New York, to the Rochester area, that we didn't have a veterans' cemetery. There's a beautiful one in Bath, but it's a long ways away."

The Distance often proved problematic for the families of veterans who wished to be buried in a veterans' cemetery. "What about an elderly widow, who wants to visit her husband? To go drive all the way down there once a month is too big a burden for her and it was not fair and not right," Schumer said. The Bath cemetery is about 100 miles away from Buffalo, and 85 miles outside of Rochester. 

For that reason, a new veterans' cemetery will be built on Indian Falls Road, near the Pembroke Thruway exit. The plan for the 132-acre cemetery was announced in May. On Monday, Schumer announced that the VA is nearing an agreement to purchase a 60-acre property adjacent to the cemetery so there can be room for expansion.

Schumer says the cemetery will begin to be developed soon, and when it opens, he's hoping it will bear the name of a local hero.

"I'm beginning a campaign, at the request of many members of the Western New York community, to have the cemetery named after a local military hero, General 'Wild Bill' Donovan."

Donovan served during World War I, and went on to found the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, during World War II. "He changed the face of intelligence operations in this country by founding the OSS," Schumer said. "We are alive today because of Bill Donovan."

The first phase of construction on the project will include the development of cemetery roads, an entrance, administration and public information center, shelters, and a maintenance facility. That infrastructure is estimated to support the first 10 years of burial capacity. The first phase does not include the additional 60 acres the VA hopes to acquire.

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