Taking Care of His Own
Navy vet tends to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Veterans Day serves as a time to celebrate and honor American veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the preservation and protection of the nation. For some veterans, taking time to honor and remember those who served is a way of life.
Chris Farley, a Navy veteran and National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) caretaker, helps commemorate the memory of the fallen that are interred or memorialized at the NMCP. He is responsible for the maintenance of the 112.5 acres of land that make up the cemetery, the 56,971 gravesites of those who are interred in-ground or in-columbarium, and the 28,788 fallen who are memorialized in the courts of the missing.
While performing his daily tasks at the cemetery Farley said that he keeps in mind the significance of the responsibility to honor and preserve the memories of those who served before him.
"As a duty to our veterans that served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice, it's an honor to do it for us as a nation," Farley said. "Our country appreciates that we remember our fallen in this way. It's an honor to take care of the veterans."
Farley's responsibilities at the NMCP include ensuring the upkeep of the cemetery and supporting events such as burials, disinterment and interment ceremonies. Another inherent part of his job is representing what the cemetery stands for on a daily basis when interacting with visitors.
"I get a lot of satisfaction when I see the response of the visitors and the families of those that we are doing this service for," Farley said. "I've done a little bit of cemetery rep work where we bring the family up to the ceremony and then bring them down to the gravesite. It's a very personal moment of course for them and to be involved with that I want to make sure that we're doing the best job that we can do and honor their memory for their loved ones."
James Horton, Director of the NMCP and U.S. Air Force retired Colonel, said that the work Farley and other veteran employees do day to day is essential for the success of the cemetery.
"They are responsible for mowing smaller areas, the trimming of the markers and trees, and they are the ones who make sure that everything is looking as beautiful as it can," Horton said. "They're actually face to face with folks who are here visiting so they become the faces of the cemetery themselves and they are very proud of that."
Horton said that Farley has a personal investment when working at the cemetery. For Farley, working on the grounds brings him closer to family.