Acquisition

Historic Maryland graves could be moved for federal facility

FORT MEADE, Md. — Graves at a century-old family cemetery on the grounds of a military base in Maryland could be moved to make way for a federal government building on the land, a newspaper reported Friday.

A Maryland District Court ruled last week that the U.S. government could obtain the 418-square-foot burial ground at Fort Meade to build national security computing facilities there, according to The Capital Gazette. The cemetery lies within a National Security Agency Cyber Defense Campus, the newspaper said, citing court filings.

The Defense Department would move the headstones and remains to another cemetery on the base, the newspaper said.

Two members of the Downs family were buried in the plot dating back to 1883, according to court records. Theirs is one of nine family cemeteries remaining on the base. Mike Myers, a Downs family descendant, told the newspaper he and his family do not have a problem with the remains being moved.

However Tina Simmons, a board member for the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, told The Capital Gazette that because the cemetery is more than 50 years old, it is considered historic and advocates would rather see it preserved.

“We would prefer to see it kept up, maintained where it is," the paper quoted Simmons as saying.

The case will be closed April 13 unless formal objections are filed, court records showed. Fort Meade and Justice Department officials declined to comment, the newspaper said.

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