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Establishment of National Cemetery in Southern Colorado Region

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1660) to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region, as amended.


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am pleased to bring to the floor a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Salazar of Colorado with Congressman Lamborn of Colorado. It establishes a veterans cemetery in El Paso County, Colorado.

Southern Colorado, which includes El Paso, Colorado, and the city of Colorado Springs, has the second highest concentration of veterans living in the United States. Currently those veterans and their families who wish either to visit a veterans cemetery or have their loved ones interred must travel into the Denver metropolitan area to Fort Logan National Cemetery.

Not only is this an undue burden, but the Fort Logan cemetery is running out of room. To alleviate this problem, H.R. 1660 directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in El Paso County, Colorado. This was a fitting tribute to those Americans who have served our Nation with honor. The veterans national cemeteries of the United States demonstrate the desire of a grateful Nation to appropriately commemorate those who have served in the Armed Forces.

Since 1862, close to 3 million burials have been made in the VA national cemeteries. The National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs manages 125 of these cemeteries nationwide for our veterans. Of these, 58 of them are no longer accepting interments. Thus, the
need to build new cemeteries is quite urgent.

As we lose more and more of our greatest generation of veterans and face the increasing prospects of additional fatalities of Iraq, this country, at the very least, needs to ensure that veterans are provided a dignified, accessible and well-maintained final resting spot. This bill would go a long way in making that happen.

It is supported by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

I was proud to see the bipartisan approach taken by two members of our committee, Mr. Salazar and Mr. Lamborn, to make sure that this bill got through the committee. They both worked cooperatively and tirelessly to get this bill to the floor today.


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 1660, as amended.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. FILNER. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and yield back the balance of my time.


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