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Never underestimate the resolve of area residents wanting to honor a veteran.
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Through social media, they joined together to replace a Marine Corps flag on U.S. 285 near Highway 8 that commemorates where truck driver and Marine Corps veteran Albert Lujan died in an accident on May 6, 2021. Lujan was traveling northbound on U.S. 285 when he crashed the truck, and the cab dislodged, going down an embankment. Lujan died at the scene.
In mid-December, Carylon Edwards of Conifer noticed how the elements had taken their toll on the flag, which was in shreds.
“When I got home, I posted on NextDoor, wondering if there was a Marine who had a flag to replace it,” Edwards said.
Soon Dawn Borg of Conifer said she would provide a flag if someone could locate a Marine to help raise it. Residents reached out to Elliot Pappas, a Marine Corps veteran and quartermaster for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Shawnee.
Pappas joined Borg at the site of the flag, properly replacing it. The tattered flag also was properly disposed of.
"This is so impressive that total strangers would do that,” Edwards said. “It gets me emotional. It’s hard to see the flag in bad shape.”
Borg remembers the accident since she was caught in the backup while first responders cleared the scene. She remembers the first Marine Corps flag being erected on Dec. 30, 2021.
“That flag gave a face to a tragedy that people up here in the hills laid witness to,” she said. “That heavy degree of sadness echoed through the community. It was good that we could replace the flag, and it made a lot of people feel good.”
According to his obituary, Lujan, 65, of Johnstown, Colorado, served in the Marine Corps, enjoyed riding his Harley motorcycle, brushing up on his photography skills and spending time with his family. He was kind, loving, warm and his own teacher, always willing to share a great book or knowledge that he had taught himself. He was passionate about books, cars, trucks and riding his bike, and was always a source of positivity. Lujan was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
Those involved with the flag-replacement effort hope Lujan’s family knows that area residents are thankful for his service, and the spot where he died is well cared for.
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