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Pikes Peak National Cemetery the mission of many

Pikes Peak National Cemetery
Posted at 8:51 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 00:45:25-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Retired Army Colonel Vic Fernandez was buried in October 2021 in the cemetery he pushed to build in Colorado Springs.

"He's really a legend among veterans in Colorado," said Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colorado-R).

Lamborn worked alongside Fernandez to bring a national veterans cemetery to Colorado Springs. Lamborn introduced his first bill in 2007 to make it happen. But Lamborn and everyone involved, including Former Congressman John Salazar, kept hitting road blocks with the VA.

"A lot of it is political," said Salazar. "I tried for many years to get that passed. Congressman Lamborn was able to get through the final issues there."

"The Veterans Administration is very bureaucratic," said Lamborn. "There's lots of red tape. They had a 75 mile rule that if you're within 75 miles of an existing cemetery you can't build another cemetery."

That meant Fort Logan in Denver was too close. So they asked the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs in the Department of Veterans Addairs, Bill Tuerk, to come to Colorado to talk about it. Lamborn says when Tuerk hit Monument Hill in a snow storm, he finally realized just how dangerous it can be for drivers to travel north.

"When he was coming from the airport to the hearing a snow a summer snow squally hit him, he almost didn't make it," Lamborn said.

State Representative Mary Bradfield (Fountain-R) knows how long and often dangerous that drive can be. Her late husband, Dennis, died in 2010. He was originally buried at Fort Logan but she had his remains moved to the Pikes Peak National Cemetery so his gravesite would be closer to her.

"I thought, 'Why not?' I live right over here, not too far away, and this seems like this is the better spot," Bradfield said. "I look here and I think of all these other men and women who served in one way or another and have a final resting place. I'm grateful for that."

Cemetery Director Skyler Holmes says the Pikes Peak National Cemetery receives remains from other cemeteries on a regular basis. He says there's no cost to be buried at the cemetery thanks to the service of each selfless veteran.

"The first step is for the family, the next of kin, or the funeral home to contact scheduling office in St. Louis, Missouri," he said.

Twenty-eight hundred veterans and their families are buried here so far, an accomplishment of so many determined people including humble veterans like Vic Fernandez.

The Pikes Peak National Cemetery is located at 10545 Drennan Road in Colorado Springs. It will eventually be the final resting place for 95,000 veterans and family members.

For more information about the cemetery and eligibility click here.
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