Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and pay tribute to an individual whose dedication and contributions to the community of Riverside, California are exceptional. Riverside has been fortunate to have dynamic and dedicated community leaders who willingly and unselfishly give their time and talent and make their communities a better place to live. Steve Jorgensen is one of these individuals. Steve will be retiring as Director of the Riverside National Cemetery this year and his dedication and contributions will be missed.
Steve is a native of Oregon where he joined the United States Army and served honorably for three years. In 1976, he graduated from Mount Hood College and later attended College of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.
Steve joined the National Cemetery System in June 1973, while still a student, as a cemetery caretaker at Willamette National Cemetery located in Portland, Oregon. In January of 1977, he was elected as a cemetery director trainee and remained at Willamette for the year long program. After completion of the program, he was named Director at Eagle Point, Oregon National Cemetery and remained there for a year and a half. He served as Director of the Fort Smith, Arkansas National Cemetery; Director of the San Francisco, California National Cemetery; Assistant Director of the Willamette National Cemetery; and Director of the Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
Steve was appointed to Director of Riverside National Cemetery in October 1991 and has been responsible for all burial and maintenance operations at the cemetery. Riverside National Cemetery is one of our nation's largest cemeteries and is the most active. The 921-acre facility has 288 developed acres, performs 8,000 burials yearly, and has over 145,000 gravesites to maintain. The facility is revered for its high standards of maintenance and efficiency. Under Steve's excellent leadership the facility has achieved the highest awards possible within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Robert W. Carey Organizational Excellence Award. The cemetery received this prestigious award in 1996, 2002 and 2003.
Steve's tireless passion for service has contributed immensely to the betterment of the community of Riverside California. His unwavering commitment to maintaining the dignity of the Riverside National Cemetery is a source of pride to his community and I am proud to call him a fellow community member, American and friend. I know that many community members, veterans and spouses of veterans are grateful for his service and salute him as he retires.
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