Each Memorial Day, the public is invited to a special ceremony at the Eagle Point National Cemetery honoring veterans.

Snapshot: Eagle Point National Cemetery

Looking down from Carillon Hill, the rows of marble markers are silent. Springtime flowers are blooming and busy birds flit from earth to tree-branch-nest, feeding their ravenous young.

The bells begin to play a familiar hymn with notes echoing across the grassy hills.

It's then that you realize what a beautiful location this is. To the east the snow still melts on Mount McLoughlin. Roxy Ann rises in the southern sky and to the west, the Table Rocks break through an early morning fog.

How fortunate that in 1952 the Veteran's Administration chose this location for Oregon's third National Cemetery, joining those in Portland and Roseburg.

First called the White City National Cemetery because of its association with the VA Domiciliary, it was rededicated as the Eagle Point National Cemetery in 1985.

That same year, the carillon (a set of bells hung in a bell tower) was donated to the cemetery by the American Veterans association, AMVETS. Since then it has played on every hour, seven days a week, 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

In 1999 there were about 8,000 occupied gravesites and now that number is approaching 13,000, forcing the cemetery to expand.

"We should be OK for another 25 or 30 years," said cemetery representative Linda Morrow.

Morrow and fellow representative Lana Liles spend their days answering questions and lending their support. Admitting that it can be an emotional job at times, Morrow says she loves what she does.

"It's wonderful to have the opportunity to serve the veterans and their families," she said, "especially when they need help getting through a sad part of their lives."

Each Memorial Day, the public is invited to a special ceremony honoring veterans.

"We do a monthly memorial for all families who have a veteran here," said Liles, "but this is our only public program."

Liles said that Central Point's Scenic Middle School has been helping for a number of years with preparations for the ceremony.

"They were out on Friday and placed all of our peace flags on each individual grave," she said.

The Memorial Day program begins at 11 a.m. and will be held on the grassy area near the cemetery office. Although there will be a few chairs available, Liles recommends visitors bring their own.

One of the highlights of the day will be a flyover by an Oregon Air National Guard jet from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls.

"It will probably be close to 11," said Morrow, "but we're never exactly sure. We never know how many spots they have to hit before they get to us."

The Eagle Point National Cemetery is certainly worth a visit, whether you know someone who's buried there or not. Its formal precision and beauty are unlike any other cemetery you're likely to see.

If you spend a few moments on one of the shaded benches scattered throughout the grounds, or walk the rows of markers and read the names, you'll agree. In all the world, there can be no more peaceful place than this.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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