The Houston Veterans Administration Cemetery was dedicated December 7, 1965. It was the only government cemetery constructed in the United States during the 1960s.
The present-day Houston National Cemetery was the largest of its kind at the time of construction. Designed entirely by VA staff, it was also the only new VA cemetery not located on the grounds of a VA hospital. Prior to Houston's opening, the last VA cemetery established was at Eagle Point VA Medical Center, Oregon, in 1952. The largest VA cemeteries at the time were in Los Angeles at 114.47 acres, and Leavenworth, KS, at 113.15 acres. At 419.2 acres, the Houston facility was slightly smaller than the 450 acres or so of Arlington National Cemetery, to which it was compared.
Houston became a national cemetery in 1973 after the passage of the National Cemetery Act.
In 2017, the Houston National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
Monuments and MemorialsThe Hemicycle at Houston National Cemetery is its largest memorial and the most visible structure on the landscape. It is the only NCA-managed hemicycle memorial and is one of only three known hemicycles located in national cemeteries. The others are located at Arlington National Cemetery, VA, operated by the U.S. Army, and at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
At the keystone, or center, of the hemicycle are the chapel, carillon and speaker's stand. David Parsons, a professor of art at Rice University, sculpted a 20' x 6' bas relief of three interlocking formsa fallen soldier supported by two comrades. The sculpture, made of crushed quartz, was installed at the chapel entrance in 1965. The 75-foot tower, 305-bell, Schulmerich "Americana" carillon was dedicated May 30, 1970.
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