MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — A group of about forty people gathered at the Alabama National Cemetery to place American flags at the headstones of deceased soldiers in preparation of Memorial Day.
The tradition of placing flags at headstones dates back to the 1950s in Arlington Cemetery. Ever since, scouts, soldiers and family members have continued this tradition around the country.
It took under an hour for the group of volunteers to place flags at all 27,000 headstones at the Alabama National Cemetery.
Peggy Bourland and her two sons, Charley and Andrew, were some of those present to lend a helping hand.
She was also visiting her husband, Ken, who died in the 2010 Haitian earthquake. He was a member of the Air Force.
“It’s a hard weekend, but everyday we think about him,” Bourland said. “Today is just a time to come up here and not just pay our respects to him, but to honor all these guys that are out here that have served our country and fought for our freedom.”
Bourland and her sons placed a flag at Ken’s grave before continuing to help decorate the graves of all those buried at the cemetery. She said it is important to have her sons with her for Memorial Day activities because she doesn’t want Charley and Andrew to forget what their dad did for this country.
“They need to know that every they have was paid for in blood,” Bourland said. “I think a lot of our youth today forget that they have the freedoms they have because of these guys that have fought and people that are still serving.”
While the holiday is meant to celebrate those who have died, it is a somber occasion for this family.
“I’m sad that my little guys don’t get to know their dad and to grow up with their dad being their for them,” Peggy said. “I think about how proud of them he would be and….I don’t know, it’s hard.”
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