COLORADO SPRINGS – At today’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) dedication of the Pikes Peak National Cemetery, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet honored the veterans and community members whose hard work made the construction of the cemetery possible.
“More than anyone, I want to thank those who dedicated themselves to this worthy cause,” Bennet said. “We stand here only because you fought for Colorado’s veterans to lay, in eternal rest, near the communities they called home. This cemetery is a credit to the hard work of the Pikes Peak Veterans Cemetery Committee. It’s a credit to never giving up. It’s a credit to having a 20-year long vision. And it’s a testament to the sacrifice of the men and women who lay here.”
“It is my hope that, for decades to come, generations of Coloradans will come here to not only honor this sacrifice, but to reflect on our own opportunity to serve; to reflect on our duties as citizens; and to realize that all of us, too, have a role to play in defending our republic and the freedoms we hold dear,” Bennet concluded.
Since his first year in the United States Senate, Bennet has worked with former Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Doug Lamborn to bring a national cemetery to southern Colorado. In 2009, Bennet introduced legislation with Udall to create the cemetery. In 2010, the President's budget request included language that reduced the population threshold used to determine where new national veterans cemeteries could be built from 170,000 to 80,000 veterans living within 75 miles of a potential site. This language, which followed a meeting Bennet held with then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, allowed the VA to build a cemetery in southern Colorado. In 2013, following a rigorous review process that included public meetings and a public comment period, the VA announced it had agreed to purchase land for this preferred site in Colorado Springs, and closed the deal in January of 2014. In 2016, Bennet secured the $36 million necessary for construction of the project.
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