Sen. Dodd’s Mare Island Naval Cemetery Restoration Bill Passes Both Houses
SACRAMENTO – A resolution from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, supporting federal legislation from U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to transfer the Mare Island Naval Cemetery from the city of Vallejo to the Department of Veterans Affairs for repair and maintenance, passed the Assembly on Monday and will be sent to the White House and Congress.
“We owe our veterans decent resting places at the end of their lives of service,” Senator Dodd said. “Unfortunately, this cemetery has suffered physical deterioration over the years and the city of Vallejo can no longer afford to shoulder the cost of its upkeep. We ask that the government step in to restore the grounds in a manner befitting these brave men and women.”
House Resolution 5588 will return to federal oversight the cemetery that is the oldest of its kind on the West Coast and is the final resting place for more than 900 fallen veterans. It was deeded to Vallejo with other property and buildings in 1996 when the Navy closed Mare Island Naval Shipyard. The cemetery’s return to federal authority is supported by city officials and more than 55,000 visitors who signed a petition requesting the action. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has since introduced a companion bill which is co-sponsored by Sen. Kamala Harris.
“Thank you to Senator Dodd for his support of my legislation to preserve the Mare Island Cemetery,” Rep. Thompson said. “This final resting place for our nation’s heroes is an important piece of our state and our country’s history and a sanctuary for our veterans. It must be maintained to the highest standards and I will continue working with local and state partners to find a solution that honors those who have served our nation in uniform.”
Senate Joint Resolution 26 asks the state of California to officially call on Congress to pass Thompson’s legislation. Burials at the hillside cemetery began in 1856 and continued until 1921. Veterans interred there include Medal of Honor recipients and the daughter of national anthem writer Francis Scott Key.
“I believe the Department of Veterans Affairs is best positioned to restore the cemetery and provide perpetual care for this hallowed place,” Dodd said. “This resolution signals our whole-hearted support for federal efforts to repair these hallowed grounds and ensure they are maintained forever.”
“The Mare Island Naval Cemetery is a continual reminder of both the selfless sacrifice of our service men and women and the proud history of our community’s contributions to securing liberty and freedom for millions around the world,” said Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, a principal co-author of Senator Dodd’s bill. “I am co-authoring this resolution in the hope these hallowed grounds will, in perpetuity, be cared for the way other military cemeteries are across the country. Our nation owes it to these sailors and their memories.”
The resolution was adopted by the Senate May 21. Now, it will be chaptered and transmitted to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate majority leader and California’s congressional members.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.