Valley High students craft urns for remains of unclaimed veterans


Students at in Albuquerque-area high school are putting their woodworking skills to good use, making urns to honor local veterans. 

Thursday, those Valley High School students presented the urns to the county, and in return got the thanks they deserve.

“We built for the veterans and we just want to give back to the community,” student Emilio Alvarez said.

Valley High School woodshop teacher, Gino Perez, came up with the idea to create urns for the remains of unclaimed veterans.

“Quite frankly, I didn’t realize or even know the magnitude of what we were really doing here,” Perez said.

The state of New Mexico has 160,000 veterans. Dozens of them pass away each year, and their remains are left unclaimed.

“Some of them come home and they’re not the same as when they left, they face challenges. Life perhaps turns out in a way they did not intend,“ said New Mexico of Veterans Affairs Secretary Jack Fox.

That leaves the responsibility up to the county and the Office of Veterans Affairs to give these men and women, that served our country, a proper burial. 

In the past, the remains were buried in a small black cardboard box. The Valley High students felt they deserved a more dignified send off, so they handcrafted 18 urns. 

“I think this is a great way to show that even young people care about our veterans, and they deserve to be acknowledged,” Alvarez said.

In an assembly Thursday, the students presented their urns. Some of the earns will be used for burials next month at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. State officials expressed their gratitude at the school.

“Not only do they have a family of 160,000 New Mexico brothers and sisters, but they have Valley High as their family,” Fox said to the students. “I can’t begin to thank you enough.”

Valley High’s woodshop teacher says they hope to do this every year, and would welcome any donations from the community.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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