Fundraising Efforts Result in Two Columbaria for Veterans at Riverview Cemetery

Fundraising Efforts Result in Two Columbaria for Veterans at Riverview Cemetery

SweetwaterNOW photo by Olivia Kennah

GREEN RIVER — The VFW Post 2321 and the American Legion Post 28 donated two columbaria that have been placed at Riverview Cemetery to the city of Green River Tuesday night. The columbaria ensure that veterans can have a home after they pass in the town that they grew up in.

The VFW and American Legion have been fundraising for the two columbaria for several years and were able to purchase and place each columbarium within the last year. The Green River City Council voted unanimously, with Council Members Mike Shutran and Robert Berg being absent, to accept the donation of the two columbaria.

VFW Post 2321 Commander Earl McDonald said that the mission to purchase a columbarium started somewhere around 11 to 12 years ago. He said that when he returned to the VFW Commander position several years ago, he noticed the limited space for veterans and their spouses at Riverview Cemetery.

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McDonald noted that placing cremains in the ground takes up the same amount of space as a casket, so a columbarium is a good solution to allow for more spaces in a less amount of space. Each columbarium will allow veterans to be laid to rest with their spouse, given the veteran passes away first.

“At that time we came up with the idea to get a columbarium,” McDonald said. Eventually, they put their idea to work and found out a way to make it happen. “We just kept chewing around with the idea and working with it, and finally we joined up with Post 28 and just decided flat out, we’re going to have to start doing something.”

It was then that they started a savings account with Trona Valley and began collecting donations. It didn’t take long for the donations to start pouring in.

“We live in a very nice place here. People are kind, they’re nice, they’re free with their money, and we can only say thank you very much to everyone who has donated or helped fill our account up,” he said.

One columbarium was placed in May 2023, and a short while afterwards, they decided to get a second one as soon as possible, as prices were only going to go up. The first columbarium was $35,000, and the second one was $37,000. However, he said the American Legion in Rock Springs recently ordered one for $41,000.

McDonald also said that they couldn’t have placed the columbaria without the Green River Parks and Recreation Department doing the concrete work for each columbarium to sit on.

Former VFW Commander Jim Shoemaker thanked the city council for their support in this effort.

“I wanted the city of Green River to be known as people who come together and work together, and produce an everlasting thing,” Shoemaker said.

Mayor Pete Rust and Council Member George Jost turned the thank you back to the VFW and American Legion, stating that this effort shows the character of the community’s local veterans.

“It’s amazing and it’s going to serve the veterans for a long time to come. It’s a great testament to our veterans here in Green River,” Rust said.

“Your leadership, Earl and Jim, means a lot,” Jost said. “I appreciate everything you guys do.”