Santa Rosa ceremony honors unknown veterans buried in county cemetery

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Seventeen new markers were placed Saturday on the graves of military veterans buried at the Sonoma County indigent cemetery in Santa Rosa.

Two Sonoma County residents worked together to identify the veterans in the cemetery, where the county has laid to rest people who die without resources to cover the costs of interment and, often, without known family.

As Sandy Frary, an archivist and lover of local history, worked on helping the Coroner’s Office upgrade its records for the cemetery, Ron Collier, a retired Windsor fire chief, jumped on board to help. Collier, who is part of the Missing in America Project, wants to help make sure that all military veterans are honored.

“In retirement, Ron has made it his mission, his life’s mission, to honor all veterans the way they should be — with honor, with dignity,” said state Sen Mike McGuire, who spoke at the memorial service and dedication Saturday.

Collier and his Missing in America Project volunteers had hoped to exhume the remains of the veterans and reinter them with full military honors at a national cemetery. However, the cost and logistics of moving the veterans’ remains proved daunting, so the Veterans Administration paid to have markers instead.

Saturday’s honors included a rifle volley and the playing of taps.

The 3-acre county cemetery, commonly known as the Potter’s Field, is behind the city-owned Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery at McDonald Avenue and Terrace Way.

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