DENVER -- It's a question nearly everyone who has visited Fort Logan National Cemetery in southwest Denver has likely pondered: How could you ever pay back those who paid such a price for their country?
On Wednesday, a few dozen volunteers finally found a small way.
“Absolutely. This is the best way that we can give back,” said Darin Salas, an arborist with Arborscape in Denver.
At 36 cemeteries in 27 states, 1,500 arborists donated their talent and their time to make these pristine places even more so. It’s part of a program called Saluting Branches.
“What we wanted to do is we wanted to give back to the veterans who gave so much more, so as tree people, we have a particular set of skills, and being in cemeteries like this, there's a particular need. So we're filling that gap,” said Korey Lofy from Rainbow Treecare.
“This is huge. These people are coming in volunteering their time and equipment. It's more than recognition, it's what we stand for. Fort Logan is a national shrine,” said Charles Hutchinson, cemetery caretaker supervisor.
So many of the tree experts have been looking forward to helping clean up the trees that surround the more than 100,000 marble and granite monuments to U.S. military members and their loved ones here.
“This year, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss it for anything. So we did what we had to do to move some stuff around and make it happen,” Salas said.
It's personal for him. One of the headstones at Fort Logan belongs to his grandfather, Pvt. First Class Theodore "Ted" Salas, who served in the Army and was buried there in 1989, when Darin was just a baby.
“I've never done anything with my grandfather, no camping trips, or anything like that, so this is kind of a chance for me to spend some quality time if you will,” Salas said.
In one way or another, nearly every volunteer is connected to this final resting place.
“There are a lot of men and women in the tree industry who have served, or have family in places like this,” Lofy said.
And on this one day, in one small way, they’re giving back.