The community as a whole needs to support a new effort to enlarge the Beaufort National Cemetery.
The park-like cemetery on Boundary Street has been an asset to Beaufort since the Civil War. It was one the first six national cemeteries established in 1863, and it remains today a hallowed place where as many as 400 burials take place annually.
It is surrounded by the city, so room to grow is limited. It was expanded by 15 acres in recent years. Now the Veterans Cemetery Committee of Beaufort has formed the Beaufort National Cemetery Expansion Fund to help buy 5 acres near the cemetery's northwest corner.
The 5-acre tract is the last land adjacent the cemetery. It is home to an aging affordable housing complex. The owner was willing to sell in 2008, and preferred that it go to the cemetery. The local committee sought a $3.2 million earmark in the 2009 federal budget for the land, but Rep. Joe Wilson would not pursue it based on his belief that earmarks are an irresponsible and unfair way to conduct government.
We support the committee's effort to raise money for the land through tax-deductible donations. Its fund is administered by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
With this addition, burial space would be available at the cemetery until 2050.
An extended life would be good for many reasons -- historical, cultural and patriotic. Beaufort County is a military community, where many men and women in uniform train, serve and retire. Many more veterans move to the county from around the nation upon retirement, often contributing much to a community where they eventually want to be laid to rest.
Culturally, the cemetery has long served as an important place for the living. Decoration Day and Memorial Day events have offered a way to honor the fallen and inspire the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
A lot of local and American history is told in the tombstones and monuments at the cemetery, and the community should do all it can to enhance it.