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Hyde-Smith to make Vicksburg National Military Park repairs a priority

Fixing the erosion-damaged roads at the Vicksburg National Military Park will be her top priority when she returns to Washington, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said Friday.

Speaking at ceremonies dedicating the Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology, she told those gathered she had toured the park and the National Cemetery Friday morning and got a first-hand look at the damage, especially to the cemetery road.

“Nothing is more important than preserving the graves of those who made this country great,” she said.

The National Cemetery at the Military Park was closed Feb. 11 after the cemetery’s maintenance crew noticed some cracks appearing in the pavement. Two days later, on Feb. 13, the pavement buckled and failed as the road eroded, and part of the slope degraded.

National Park Service experts are working with Military Park officials to assess the problem and the potential threat to gravesites in the area.

Severe erosion problems have also forced the park to close Grant Avenue and Grant and Sherman Circles to vehicles and pedestrians.

After the ceremony, Hyde-Smith called the problem at the cemetery an emergency situation.

“It is something that happened suddenly and it is something that no one was expecting,” she said. “We got all this rain with the sacred damage; that is monumental.”

She said she will meet with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to try and get the problems stabilized “to get things back as quickly as we can but to let them know the urgency.

“When you have graves of soldiers that are displaced, this is truly a priority, and I think it will certainly be a priority with them (the Department of the Interior),” she said. “It is so unfortunate that it happened and that part of the park closed, but it is so significant to this entire country; this is our national cemetery.”

Calling the park the state’s No. 1 attraction, Hyde-Smith said, “I assure you, we will be all over this to try to get these repairs back where we can live with them. It is a sacred incident. While we’re here this is our opportunity to get the things repaired that we have been needing for a long time.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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