To visit Fort Logan during the Memorial Day commemoration is like going to a “second home” for many of the families that have veterans that passed away. I know that this is the case for me.
Miguel “Mike” Martinez (Sept. 29, 1936-May 8, 2019), an extended member of our family was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery this past 15th of May. Mike was from the farming community of Wiggins, Colorado and forms part of the memories of migrant farm worker families that crisscrossed the country harvesting crops of cotton, fruits and vegetables for farmers and for the American dinner tables.
Coming out of South Texas every year was like a survival ritual that all our extended families carried out to have a life. That is how in one of our many journeys, the Garcias, the Martinez, the Castillejas, the Condes, the Barreras and many others came to Colorado.
After the harvest most left to go back to the Texas. Occasionally, some families like ours stayed to hopefully better our lives.
Being buried in a national cemetery after serving our country in wars and dying was something foreign to our nature. Texas had not been kind to the Tejano veteran in this regard as there was a time when many mortuaries would not serve our dead soldiers.
Fort Logan became an important place for me as love flowered every time I came by. That love began with the death and burial of Reies Tulipanes Armenta-Conde, a granddaughter that was not to live a single moment after birth.
My son, now a Colonel in the United States Air Force, called in late February 2003 to let us know that Reies’ heart had stopped beating and was not to be born alive. Her birthday is February 26, 2003 and that is also the date listed on her death certificate.
She traveled from Maryland to Colorado to be buried at Fort Logan. She lies in that beautiful and hallowed place and her parents and family continue to grieve.
My nephew Jose “Joey” Cabral also lies there. He was a Lance Corporal assigned to the First Marine Division during the invasion of Iraq.
He came home a hero, but the demons created by battle would not leave him alone. He died in a late-night accident on I-25 at the age of 23.
My in-laws Roy and Phyllis Bobian were buried in Fort Logan in 2004. He was a WWII veteran that fought in Africa.
My brother Sgt. Roy Conde, an Air Force veteran came to find his resting place in Fort Logan in August 2015. He is one of four brothers and sisters that were lost to the family in a span of two years.
So far, the last to be buried there is my stepfather Alejos “Alex” Gonzalez who served in the United States Air Force. He died and was buried in November 2016.
Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, began to take on a life of its own after the American Civil War. The death of 620,000 on both sides of the War called for important commemorative activities to be held annually.
Over time, May 30, became the day for the celebration until Congress in 1968 changed it to the fourth Monday in May in order to create a 3-day weekend. You can celebrate it by visiting loved ones at Fort Logan.
Remember, the War on Terror continues to take victims around the world. Therefore, praying for peace is also appropriate.