By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – On this Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and democracy. A service at Fort Logan National Cemetery was just one of many events across Colorado aiming to do just that.

Among the hundreds in attendance Monday were several gold star families, including the mother of Danny Dietz. The Colorado-born Navy Seal was killed while carrying out a mission in Afghanistan in 2005.

“It’s always somber and beautiful,” said Cindy Dietz-Marsh. “With the flags on all the headstones it’s just absolutely beautiful.”

(credit: CBS)

Replacing old flowers and worn flags, Dietz-Marsh has become all too familiar with solemn traditions like visiting her son’s grave. On Monday morning, she and other loved ones arrived with flowers, flags and more to pay their respects.

“I just always want to make his site look beautiful, especially on days like today,” Dietz-Marsh said.

This marks her 17th Memorial Day spent at Fort Logan National Cemetery. Every year, it’s a reminder of her son’s ultimate sacrifice, as well as her enduring pain.

“It’s still very bittersweet,” Dietz-Marsh said. “It stings a lot still, but it’s such a beautiful day to come to remember and honor my son along with all those others that are buried here at this beautiful cemetery.”

Cindy’s son, Danny Dietz, 25, was a Heritage High School graduate and a Navy SEAL. In 2005, he was on a mission in Afghanistan when his team of four was discovered by goat herders. After letting them go, they alerted the Taliban who killed all but one.

Dietz was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart. The mission was also portrayed in the movie “Lone Survivor.”

On Monday, he was one of thousands of fallen soldiers from Colorado honored during the ceremony at Fort Logan, the first at the site since 2019 because of the pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

“America owes a debt of gratitude to their survivors,” said one speaker.

Before and after the ceremony, Dietz’s gravesite was a place for more personal thank yous. Some brought flowers or tokens of appreciation, while others gave his mother grateful embraces.

“I look forward to those hugs,” Dietz-Marsh said. “They’re what keep me going day in and day out.”

So do the fond memories of Danny she’ll always cherish, before he, like many others, gave his tomorrow for our today.

“Seeing the love and the respect and honor that Danny gets, it’s just overpowering,” she said. “If he were here today, I know he would want to be here with us celebrating the lives of those others.”

Conor McCue