BUSHNELL, Fla. - Loved ones come from all over the state and beyond to lay their relatives to rest at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.
Just off I-75, the cemetery overs nearly 500 acres of rolling hills and wooded enclaves.
“When you come here, what is the sense that you get?” we asked Daryl Torres, who came to bury his father, 79-year-old Navy veteran Ronald Torres.
“Peace, respect,” the younger Torres responded.
The atmosphere is just one of the things that draws people.
Executive director Roderick Thomas points out that most of the 60 people who work there are veterans themselves, so they can relate to mourners.
“We actually develop relationships with them when they come back to visit their parents for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day,” Thomas explained. “We get to know them.”
It is not unusual to have 50 funerals in one day, which makes it one of the busiest cemeteries in the entire country. More than 160,000 people are interred here.
Anyone with an honorable discharge is eligible. So are their immediate family members.
Thomas says the government does extensive outreach to let people know that they qualify what the cemetery offers: Free burial and perpetual care.
“A lot of veterans are under the misconception that 'If I didn’t serve in combat, I don’t rate the burial benefit from the VA,' which is not true," he added.