Gunnery Sergeant Justin Colgrove sets an American flag at the grave site of a military veteran in Columbia Cemetery in Boulder with all the members of the University of Colorado’s Naval ROTC.
If you go
What: Veterans Day ceremony
When:Friday, 11 a.m.
Where: UMC, Glenn Miller Ballroom
Cost: Free
Before the sun came up Wednesday morning, a group of 105 University of Colorado students were gathered near Folsom Stadium. 

For the group of Navy ROTC cadets, the two-mile run would be a break from their typical four-mile trek. 

At 6 a.m. sharp, Matthew Lamb, Navy cadet and CU senior, took off toward Boulder’s Columbia Cemetery for a tradition that will kick off CU’s Veterans Day celebrations. 

The cadets lined the east end of the cemetery near 9th Street and walked a block west placing 308 flags at the graves of veterans, who served in the Civil war, the Spanish-American war, both World wars and the Korean war. 

Many of the tombstones do not recognize the veterans as members of the military. 

“It means a lot to the active and soon-to-be military members to recognize those who served before us,” Lamb said. “And I think it opens Boulder’s heart to their service.”

CU will hold a Veterans Day ceremony Friday in the University Memorial Center featuring Maj. David Rozelle, commanding officer of the Army ROTC program who lost his foot during one of his three tours to Iraq. CU will also host a Veterans Day concert Friday night and a pre-game tailgate party Saturday before the football game. 

Mike Goss, Navy veteran and member of the Boulder Veteran’s Council — which provides the flags for the cemetery memorial — said he is “glad to see the young guys” reflecting on the history of the men and women who served before them. 

“It helps the young guys build a sense of community and shows them, ‘these are the standards I should hold myself to,'” Goss said. “Even if that’s all that happens, it’s worth it but of course we hope it inspires them to be better, too.”

John Patrick Sansom, CU’s G.I. Bill certifying official, is one of the many veterans on campus to be honored this weekend, but Sansom said he will not be focused on his own service but that of the military community on campus. 

Sansom served six years in the Army and one tour in Iraq working with Iraqi forces before graduating from CU and eventually working with veterans on campus. Sansom said he has never seen his service as anything but a job but that doesn’t stop him from honoring his fellow servicemen. 

“When I was walking around town in my uniform and people were saying thank you, it was just weird,” Sansom said. “To me it was just a job and nothing to be thankful for. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, it’s just awkward.”

Sansom said he will spend Veterans Day thinking about his friends who are gone, active duty members, ROTC cadets and the families of soldiers. 

“We are all veterans eventually,” Sansom said. “The cadets, active members and even dependants whose family is active, we have all been there or will be there soon so we are no different.”

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