New national cemetery under construction near Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --  From above, it is still a work in progress.

But soon, a barren field east of Colorado Springs, in the shadow of Colorado's most famous mountain, will be the pristine final resting place for nearly 200,000 heroes and their loved ones.

"There's a lot of military presence here, a lot of veterans, and they've been waiting for this national cemetery for a long time," said Paul LaGrange , cemetery director for Colorado's newest Veteran's Administration cemetery called Pike's Peak National Cemetery.

A veteran of 33 years in the Army, LaGrange knows how important his mission is here.

"This mission is personal to me, taking care of veterans. I've been in their shoes before. These are our nation's heroes, and it's important to take care of them, take care of the veterans and their families," LaGrange said.

The nearly 400-acre cemetery is the third national cemetery in Colorado.

The others -- Fort Logan National Cemetery in southwest Denver and Fort Lyon National Cemetery in Las Animas -- are slowly running out of room.

The new burial grounds near Colorado Springs should be able to accommodate a century's worth of Colorado heroes.

"Well it's sacred ground -- you can't buy it, you have to be a veteran or an eligible dependent to get in. It's where our nation's heroes are laid to rest," LaGrange said.

Construction started in the fall, but already the crypts are going in, the shelters are being built and crews are on track to dedicate the grounds around the most important day of the year on their calendar -- Memorial Day.

"First burial is this fall, October time frame, and at that time, we'll be operating in temporary facilities, and then in the fall of 2019 we'll be in our permanent facilities," LaGrange said.

It is no easy task, and no one takes it lightly, transforming an empty field into a sacred shrine for men and women who sacrificed a part of their life -- or in some cases, all of it -- in service to their country.

A lot of veterans don't know, they're likely eligible to be buried in a national cemetery -- free of charge.

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