Fort Logan National Cemetery: Veterans taking care of Colorado’s fallen

DENVER -- Memorial Day is when we pause to honor those who sacrificed their life for their country. Thousands of those heroes are buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in southwest Denver.

For weeks, the grounds crew at Fort Logan has been hard at work, preparing the cemetery for the busy holiday.

They see it as their duty to take care of Colorado's fallen because most of Fort Logan's staff members are veterans too.

"Fort Logan is a place of honor, you know? This is hallowed ground," said Edward Lyons, a Fort Logan groundskeeper who served in the Marines.

He stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in November 2009. As a result, he lost his left hand at the wrist.

"Family members of the veteran or spouse who are being interred -- it means a lot more to them to be able to see that it's veterans taking care of veterans in such an obvious way," Lyons said.

"Every family that we encounter here understands that we encounter the same types of things that, say, my mother understands from my time (in the service)," said David Roberts, the grounds foreman at Fort Logan.

Roughly 90 percent of the employees on staff at Fort Logan once served in the military. They take care of the expansive cemetery where more than 120,000 service members, their spouses and their dependent children are buried.

The cemetery is 200 acres and still growing.

"It feels like I'm still serving. Feels like I'm still giving back, still part of the team," said Stan Simmons, headstone work leader at Fort Logan.

Some of these workers will be featured in a FOX 31 Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve special, airing at 9:30 p.m. Monday, called "Field of Honor: Fort Logan National Cemetery."

The special takes a closer look at the history of the cemetery, the heroes interred there and the employees who see it as their duty to take care of Colorado's fallen, long after they die.

Any honorably discharged U.S. veteran is entitled to burial benefits at any of the 135 national cemeteries such as Fort Logan.