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Establishment of National Cemetery in Southern Colorado Region

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank the chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee for his strong support of veterans, not only now, but during his tenure in the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to bring forward this legislation directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans and their families in the Southern Colorado region. I would like to thank Mr. Lamborn from Colorado who, together, we have worked in a bipartisan effort and the bipartisan spirit of the Veterans' Affairs Committee trying to make sure that the issue is resolved.

As you know, Fort Logan is the only cemetery that we have in Colorado that will accept veterans, and it is due to be filled. It is strange to say, but it has got a life expectancy of 10 years. I think it is important that we begin working on this issue right now. I would like to especially thank Chairman Filner for allowing us to bring this forward.

The National Cemeteries of the United States offer testimony to the desire of a grateful Nation to commemorate the Americans who have served our Nation in the Armed Forces.

Since 1862, more than 3 million burials have been made in VA national cemeteries. Of the 120 cemeteries, 58 of them are no longer accepting burials, and many are out of reach and geographically inconvenient for our veterans and their families. Southern Colorado, including El Paso County and the city of Colorado Springs, has one of the highest concentrations of veterans living in the United States. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, Congressman Lamborn and myself worked together in this bipartisan spirit to try to make sure that for the veterans coming back from this war, for the veterans that have served in Colorado, and for veterans that want to be buried in Colorado in 10 years, that there will be adequate space for them to be buried in Colorado. Currently, those veterans, their aging widows, and their families must sometimes travel hours into the highly congested area of Denver to Fort Logan National Cemetery, which is quickly running out of room.

The Colorado congressional delegation has worked in a bipartisan manner to create legislation that will benefit all veterans of this great State, and I would like to thank my good friends, Mr. Udall and Mr. Perlmutter of Colorado, for taking time to speak on this important bill. I think a national cemetery in Southern Colorado will serve as a fitting tribute and a final resting place to those who have served our Nation with honor.

I certainly urge a ``yes'' vote on H.R. 1660. But before I yield back, I want to remind the ranking member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee that on his question on Jerry Murphy, Jerry Murphy died on Good Friday. Jerry Murphy was born in Pueblo, Colorado. He attended college at Adams State College in Durango and Western State College, and it was a week after we came back that we gave a fitting tribute to Jerry Murphy on this House floor.

So he is remembered, Mr. Ranking Member, and I believe that the process takes a little bit of time before we can get things moving on the floor, but certainly he is not forgotten.


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