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The Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, in conjunction with the VA Medical Center and the Buncombe County Veterans Council, will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 30. Guest speaker will be Brandon Wilson, a USMC veteran who served in Iraq. He is also employed by the NC Division of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for the service.

The ceremony will include a 21-gun salute and Taps by the Buncombe County Veterans Council Memorial Team (now retired), as well as a white dove release by Julia Gaunt. The ceremony will last about 30 minutes, and all graves will have a small flag.

Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery officially opened on Oct. 28, 1993. Ernest Wheeler of Black Mountain was the first veteran buried. Miller Funeral Home in Black Mountain was in charge of arrangements. Bob Miller, Dwight Bailey and Rick Harwood were in charge of the service.

Military honors were provided by the Buncombe County Veterans Council Memorial Team, who provided military honors for thousands of veterans but have now ceased due to age and health issues. Funeral homes are in charge of arranging military honors for the veteran and getting the flag for next of kin. Veterans who are retired from the military normally have active duty personnel for military honors. Those not retired from the military can have National Guard personnel render military honors. This normally consists of the flag folding, presentation to family member, and taps.

Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery covers 42 acres and has more than 5,700 veterans and dependents buried there. The state of North Carolina provides one burial plot per veteran at no charge. Also included at no charge are opening and closing of the grave, a flat, light gray granite marker, installation of the marker and perpetual care.

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