Echoes of service: A new mission to honor fallen heroes at Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo.  

April 15, 2024
Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo is the final resting place for about 3,000 military veterans who served our country from the Civil War through today. To honor these service members, Jose Ramirez has a mission to locate and document every veteran grave using GPS coordinates.
Jose Ramirez has a mission to locate and document every veteran’s gravesite at Pueblo’s Roselawn Cemetery. Photos: Todd Seip, UCHealth.

Jose Ramirez looks out across a vast expanse of grave markers at Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo and readies himself for the challenge ahead: to locate, identify and map all the plots belonging to members of the armed forces.

A 25-year veteran of both the Army and Marines, Ramirez spent much of that time as a member of the special forces. He will not forget the pain and heartache of losing fellow service members.

While placing wreaths at the cemetery in Pueblo back in December, Ramirez learned that Roselawn did not know the exact number of veterans who were buried there. As a Next Chapter project manager at UCHealth Southern Region, and a Pueblo native, Ramirez decided it was time to help.

“It’s important for us to understand and know the history and sacrifice of our veterans and the brave service members who are laid to rest there,” Ramirez said. “We want to accurately mark these locations for family members and future generations. This project allows us to thank these vets for their service.”

A GPS mapping app will be used to help identify U.S. veterans buried in Pueblo's Roselawn Cemetery. Photo: UCHealth.
A GPS mapping app will be used to help identify U.S. veterans buried in Pueblo’s Roselawn Cemetery.

As a partner in the Next Chapter program, which provides comprehensive behavioral health services to veterans and their families, UCHealth saw this effort as a way to engage and support the Pueblo community.

With this initiative, Ramirez hopes to adorn each veteran’s final resting place with a miniature U.S. flag every Memorial Day and a Wreaths Across America wreath each December, ensuring that these veterans continue to be honored and recognized.

“The outreach and help we have received from Jose and Next Chapter is absolutely fantastic,” says Ray Brown, grounds and facilities director for Roselawn.

Brown is also a veteran and stated that over 66,000 people are buried at Roselawn, some dating back to the 1870s.

“Roselawn cemetery does have a record of everyone buried there,” Brown explained. “But documenting the military status of everyone across our 125-acre property is something we cannot do on our own.”

Jose Ramirez and Ray Brown, grounds and facilities director for Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, review a map of gravesites.
Jose Ramirez and Ray Brown, grounds and facilities director for Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, review a map of gravesites.

Brown and Ramirez are seeking help from a few dozen volunteers in May to walk the cemetery in specific locations and use a special app to map out all veteran gravesites, possibly add in a photo of each one.  Other volunteers will follow to input those locations into a GPS mapping system.

“The mapping software allows you to drop a pin, as far as where locations are, so it will give you a grid or a latitude-longitude location,” said Ramirez “You can take a picture and drop that picture onto that pin, so you have a marker for future reference. As new veterans are buried there, they can be added to the database.”

The dates that volunteers are needed are May 4 and May 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organizers are hopeful that 40-50 volunteers will be able to completely map the cemetery.

The head of the Next Chapter program hopes this opportunity to serve might even be a form of therapy for many veterans who are struggling with their separation from the military.

Warren C. Dockum, recipient of the Medal of Honor, is buried in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo.
Warren C. Dockum, recipient of the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor, is buried in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo.

“Providing the veteran community in Pueblo the opportunity to come and help us allows them to continue to live the oath of service that we took when we joined the military,” added Damian McCabe, UCHealth Director of Behavioral Health and Military Affairs. “While Roselawn may be the first to receive the benefits of this massive mapping project, the hope is to move on to other cemeteries in southern Colorado to ensure that all veterans are identified and remembered.”

In addition to expansive services offered to members of the armed forces in El Paso and Pueblo counties, UCHealth leads and administers the Next Chapter program with multiple community partners. More information can be found on their website.

About the author

Born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado, Seip graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Southern Colorado and later obtained a master’s degree in education from Walden University in Maryland. After graduation, he started his career in the media industry, working as a news reporter, director and program manager at KCSJ Radio/Pueblo Broadcasters Inc. He then moved into the arts sector, working at the Sangre De Cristo Arts and Conference Center in Pueblo.

His passion for education led him to pursue a career in teaching, spending 20 years in Pueblo School District 70 teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), music and computer science. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as the public information officer and assistant director for the Pueblo School District 70 Department of Student Services. Currently, he serves as a communications specialist for UCHealth Parkview Medical Center.

Seip is married to Kerry, a music and STEM teacher in Pueblo School District 70, and is the proud father of two adopted children, both currently attending universities in Colorado.