Trees stolen from Colorado Freedom Memorial replaced

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AURORA, Colo. -- When thieves stole two blue spruce trees from the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora in February, it was a loss to the families of the veterans memorialized on the wall. But, thanks to the generosity of one nursery and the community, the families of our fallen Colorado troops can now remember their loved ones near the magnificent Colorado blue spruces.

It was the first time Hubert Aguirre has visited the Colorado Freedom Memorial.

"There’s such an energy that comes from this wall," he said. "You can just feel the energy and it`s amazing."

Aguirre said when he learned that someone had taken the two donated trees from the site, he knew he had to replace them.

"There is no better feeling than being here and doing this," said Aguirre.

For him, the tree theft was personal because his brother, Raymond Aguirre, was killed in Vietnam.

"His name is on this wall,” he said. "It’s a real tear-jerker, you know what I mean, to see Raymond’s name up there."

Park officials said the plan for the site is for it to become a sanctuary for families of Colorado veterans killed and missing in action.

"A place where they can come, sit and grieve, and see the name of a loved one and know the community didn't forget," said Rick Crandall, the president of the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation. "Eventually, there will be several hundred trees out at this site. It will really become an intimate place.”

But, when the starter trees were swiped, they had to start over.

Front Range Landscape and Nursery stepped up and, along with community donations, bigger trees were brought in.

Crandall said, "They’re almost twice as big as the ones that were here originally because he wanted to make sure they weren't going anywhere."

Next to his brother’s name, Aguirre has planted roots and given life to the Colorado state symbol, in memory of the 6,000 names etched in the glass.

"It`s a very touching moment for me," said Aguirre. "I'm proud to be here."

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