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Last spring, community volunteers came together in an effort organized by Shari Pierce with help from a group of citizens, including veterans and 4-H youth, and they cleaned the cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day ceremonies. Another cleanup was scheduled for last weekend, but was cancelled due to a funeral.
Thanks to the efforts of town crews who went above and beyond the call of duty as they worked to make certain the section of the cemetery was free of litter for JoJo Martinez’s funeral.
Pagosa Springs has two cemeteries in the town limits — “The Pioneer Cemetery” on 10th Street and Hilltop Cemetery. Those properties are both owned by the Town of Pagosa Springs. According to the town, upkeep belongs to the individual plot owners.
Pagosa’s cemeteries are the resting place for veterans who fought in battles from World Wars I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and Civil wars. But, unless they have family or friends who are able to care for them, their graves are neglected. The neglect is a disgrace. Overgrown grass, weeds and piles of pine needles litter the gravestones of fallen soldiers.
Our cemeteries have historical significance. They are resting places for our founders, early settlers, residents, family and friends. We have a responsibility to care for the graves of those who have gone before us. It’s disrespectful and deplorable that little effort is made to upkeep our cemeteries that are in need of perpetual care.
A cemetery is a sacred resting place for our ancestors, a place to visit, pay homage, and find comfort and peace. Our ancestors and their descendents deserve more consideration and respect.
Bud Smith, lawyer for the Pine River Cemetery District in Bayfield, was recently quoted in The Durango Herald as saying, “It says something about your community if you take care of your deceased and you honor the past. It gives people a sense of community.”
We encourage town council to reconsider its policy regarding upkeep of its cemeteries and honor the history and heritage of our community and those who came before us.
Terri Lynn Oldham House