Jose Ramirez

April 18, 2024
A photo of Jose Ramirez.
Jose Ramirez

Guardian of honor: A veteran’s mission to map the fallen

Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo serves as the final resting place for approximately 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 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 December, Ramirez learned that Roselawn didn’t know the exact number of veterans who were buried there. As a Next Chapter project manager at UCHealth Southern Colorado Region, Ramirez decided that needed to change.

“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.”

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.

This is no small task for Ramirez or Next Chapter. Over 66,000 people are buried at Roselawn, some dating back to the 1870s.

Ramirez is utilizing cellphones and special GPS mapping software to facilitate the process.

“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.”

Ramirez hopes this opportunity to serve might even be a form of therapy for many veterans who are struggling with their separation from military service.

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, Next Chapter also participates in numerous community projects. More information can be found on their website.

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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.