Debra Pierson takes her job as Veterans Affairs Technician with Larimer County's Veterans Services way beyond the usual bounds. Since 1998 she has spent countless hours on an effort to identify the names of veterans in unmarked graves in Grandview and Roselawn cemeteries in Fort Collins.
Fort Collins Veterans Service Organizations, as a group, honored Pierson this past Veterans Day, May 26, 2003, by giving her a 'Distinguished Service Award' plaque for her 'Dedication and Loyalty to Veterans'. The plaque reads: "In honor of her outstanding dedication and accomplishment to identify over eighty deceased Veterans and secure a proper military headstone for their grave site in the Grandview or Roselawn Cemetery in Fort Collins, Colorado.' Earlier this spring, in April, the Fort Collins Historical Society presented Pierson with a 'Recognition Award', a plaque presented "for her on-going research to obtain markers for unmarked Veterans' graves."
Pierson began this project with a list from the American Legion of 93 Veterans buried in unmarked graves. Today there are only seven names left on Pierson's list. Records she has searched date back to the 1800s. Pierson says the Veterans she has worked to identify fought in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, "The oldest Veteran I've found was born in 1810. This project has been such a unique effort for me, it's been fun and difficult and interesting all at the same time."