Willamette National Cemetery is located about 10 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, straddling the Multnomah and Clackamas County lines. As the result of lobbying efforts by several veterans’ organizations, Congress passed Public Law 388 authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national cemetery in the Portland vicinity in 1941. Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law, he felt that funds for the purchase of land should be limited to defense needs. As a result, no appropriation was made to build the cemetery.
At the conclusion of World War II, regional authorities again began urging the development of a national cemetery in Oregon. In 1949, the state donated approximately 102 acres and subsequent donations in 1952 brought the total land area to a little over 201 acres. Construction work started in 1950, and the area was officially designated Willamette National Cemetery on Dec. 14, 1950. The first burial occurred in 1951.
An additional 68 acres were dedicated in 1997 and include additional burial sections and columbaria. The latest addition to the cemetery was the 2011 purchase of 38 adjacent acres that are held for future development.