Unclaimed Remains of Veterans Interred in Ceremony

Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado - Image by Tony Massey / CC BY-SA 2.5
Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado - Image by Tony Massey / CC BY-SA 2.5

A funeral service was held at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, for thirty veterans whose remains were never claimed after wars stretching back to World War II. Some had no next of kin. Others were cremated, and the ashes left at the funeral home. About 80 people showed up to pay their respects to the veterans.

“In my mind, they’re almost MIA, because they just sat there,” guest speaker Major General H. Michael Edwards said. “Each of them has a story. I only wish we knew their full story.”

Sometimes remains are unclaimed because their families forget or they are unaware that they can get a military funeral for their loved one. The deceased soldiers names were read out along with their rank, branch, and the war they served in. Service members then located the urn on the table before declaring them, “Present.”

The remains were marked with marble plates. It took over a year to get all of the remains together for the ceremony. Another ceremony for 36 more veterans will be held in two months time.

The Missing in America Project, a national charity that works with veterans groups to inter unclaimed veterans’ remains, put on the ceremony. Jose Gonzalez is a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran who attends ceremonies for veterans. “They didn’t greet us, we got no greetings — nothing,” Gonzales recounted his return from the war. “Some of us had to take our uniforms off, for fear of retaliation.” the Daily Mail reports

It took Gonzales years to “break out of that shell” and attend a service to for his fellow veterans. He added, “It’s healing to the soul, you know.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE