INDIANAPOLIS – Paying final tribute to a veteran’s service is so important. And for the first time since 1959, there is a place to do that in Central Indiana.

A columbarium, a place solely for cremated remains, is now open next to Crown Hill Cemetery. The Crown Hill Columbarium is so new, only about a dozen spots are filled.

FOX 59’s Lindy Thackston had the honor of attending a recent service when a local family was finally able to lay their loved one to rest.

“She was a light in any kind of darkness” is how Dawn Bates describes her mom, Valerie Jennings. “Everything was happy. Happy, happy, happy was her tagline.”

Dawn says she grew up “an army brat” as her dad served 30 years. Her mom was not in the military, but Dawn says she certainly served, too.

“She was a very important part of army wives’ networks, so we considered her just as much a part of the military as my dad.”

They didn’t want much pomp and circumstance, but they did want to have her close. Families can do a simple ceremony like Dawn’s family did or have a committal service with full military honors.

Doug Ledbetter, the cemetery’s director, says this is the first phase of a ten phase, 100-year build out that will eventually cover 15 acres. It’ll be home to the remains of more than 200,000 veterans, spouses and eligible children.

“One thing that we do that I think gives the families a lot of comfort is once their loved one enters in the cemetery, at no point from the time they enter the cemetery till they are buried, are they alone. Our employee is with them every step of the way.”

Once Dawn’s mom’s ashes were tucked away, her dad stood at attention and saluted as the family laid roses and released balloons.

“It’s beautiful here. It’s a great honor to have her here.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs dedicated the new columbarium during a ceremony in July. It is an annex to the nearby historic Crown Hill National Cemetery, which opened in 1866 and contains just over 2,000 gravesites on 2.5 acres.

The columbarium is part of the National Cemetery Administration’s “Urban Initiative Program,” which aims to improve access to veteran burial benefits.

Click here if you want more information for the veteran in your life.