By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Flags snapped in the warm autumn breeze as the honor guard presented arms and the colors. Young men and women in uniform, veterans and civilians stood at attention as the service to dedicate the new Legacy Garden at Mt. Olivet Cemetery began. A formal prayer service and the dedication of a granite marker and tree hallowed the ground and commemorated Veterans Day.
The new garden will offer a final resting place for those who have served their country and those who have served their community — police, fire fighters and all first responders.
Some months ago, Steve Pierce of Muehlebach Funeral Home, Charlie Passantino of Passantino Brothers Funeral Home, both homes independently owned and operated, sales consultant Jim McGilley III, Tripp Johnson of Johnson Granite Supply and the staff of Catholic Cemeteries Associated began working together to design and develop a new garden. The project was launched early this year. According to Joe Harris, director of Catholic Cemeteries Associated, two cemeteries were selected for the project, Resurrection Cemetery on NE Cookingham Drive and Mt. Olivet Cemetery on Blue Ridge Blvd. They were selected because of the availability of the land needed for the undertaking.
Both gardens will be named Legacy, to keep visitors “ever mindful that our ‘Heritage’ is being preserved by the extraordinary women and men who serve,” Harris said. Both were dedicated on Veteran’s Day. The dedication at Resurrection took place in the morning, attended by police officers and veterans.
Retired Deacon Justin McMenamy began the afternoon prayer service at Mt. Olivet. He was followed by Father David Holloway, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish, who served 21 years as a U.S. Navy chaplain, retiring from active duty in 2003. With the color guard and honor guard on either side, comprised of Central High School ROTC members, Father Holloway, in dress uniform, said, “We dedicate this ground for our veterans to lie at peace. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”
Veterans of all branches of the military, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as all First Responders, police, fire fighters and medical personnel who have provided for the safety of our country and our communities will have their own special place of rest.”
Kansas City Missouri Fire Chief Richard “Smokey” Dyer followed Father Holloway to the lectern. Also a Navy veteran, Dyer, who has served as a fire fighter since 1965, and chief since 2000, helped dedicate the granite marker that for now, is the centerpiece of the garden.
The playing of “Taps” concluded the ceremony and the color and honor guards marched in formation to a spot across the road from the garden.
Conceptual drawings are being completed, detailing the layout of the garden, including the memorials to armed service veterans and First Responders. Over the next few weeks, final surveys will be completed at both cemeteries, detailed maps of each grave location will be printed, and sales will begin.
Permanent memorials will be available, allowing families and groups to dedicate a bench or flag in honor of a loved one who has died but will always be remembered. As the design of these gardens reach completion, the cemeteries plan to incorporate both above ground burials in a mausoleum or columbarium, and in-ground burials in graves suitable for both casketed remains and cremated remains.
“Smart Tag” technology is also being launched for the first time in the new gardens. The technology places a “chip” on the memorial that enables a “smart phone” to read information about the person who is buried here. The granite monument that was dedicated at both cemeteries on Veteran’s Day contains one of the “smart” chips.
For more information on the Legacy Garden at Mt. Olivet and Resurrection cemeteries, contact Mt. Olivet at (816) 353-1900.