In terms of area, the largest national cemetery in the US is Calverton National Cemetery. It covers 4.23 km2 (1,045 acres). At the end of 2008, there were 212,000 interments in the site. An average of 6,600 burials takes place daily. It is the third busiest in America.
There are 207,719 gravestones in the cemetery. The public cemetery is owned by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. It is located in the hamlet of Wading River at the Town of Riverhead in Suffolk County, New York. This is to the east of Long Island.
The site was constructed in 1978. It would eventually become the third biggest national cemetery in Long Island. Other national cemeteries to be found in the area are Long Island National Cemetery at Farmingdale, New York and Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The latter was created in 1962 while the former in 1936.
In 1974, the only cemetery with space for burial at Long Island was Long Island National Cemetery. But it was clear that the maximum capacity would soon be attained. It was for this reason that plans to build the largest national cemetery was hatched.
The aim was to serve the larger New York area. It was then home to almost 3 million veterans, not including their dependents. On December 7, 1977, a 3.7 sq km (902 acre) piece of land was moved from the U.S. Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton into the Veterans Administration.
The National Cemetery System quickly realized that the new site would be very busy. To meet the demand, they came up with the committal “wheel” of shelters. This allowed several burial services to be done at the same time.
The seven committal centers are located near the Veteran’s Circle. Following the service, the caskets would be placed in the gravesites. The committal shelter walls were built in 1983. These would function as columbaria for the internment of the cremated.
Calverton National Cemetery has a memorial pathway with various kinds of memorials. By 2003, over 18 memorials have been set there. Majority of them are dedicated to veterans of wars during the 20th century.
The largest national cemetery in the US has some notable interments. These include Col Francis S. Gabreski, an ace pilot during World War II and Michael P. Murphy, a US navy Seal who served in Afghanistan.