Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FLAGS AT VETERANS' GRAVES A REMINDER; Volunteers Continue Annual Tradition of Placing Flags to Celebrate Memorial Day

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FLAGS AT VETERANS' GRAVES A REMINDER; Volunteers Continue Annual Tradition of Placing Flags to Celebrate Memorial Day

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

Brunswick The dew was still on the grass and the sun was just clearing the trees Saturday morning when more than two dozen volunteers gathered at Palmetto Cemetery to make graves ready for Memorial Day.

It's a simple enough task, placing a flag at the foot of a veteran's grave, but daunting when the numbers are taken into account.

Joe Hannon, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2588, brought 1,250 flags and had 500 more waiting if needed. That comes out to more than 70 per volunteer, if all of them were used.

"We don't really know how many veterans there are," Hannon explained.

The numbers in the cemeteries only grow every year and so does the work veterans organizations do each year a week before Memorial Day. This year, there was difference. VFWs and other veterans organizations, until recently made up mostly of retirees, are seeing some younger members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well more than half of Saturday's volunteers were younger than 50, including some in their 20s and a few teens.

Jack Mefford, a retired Marine and member of 2588, has said he's glad to see them. Hobbled with bad knees, Mefford picked up flags at Palmetto and left. He and his wife place flags at smaller cemeteries in outlying areas - some at churches, others not.

Chris and Jenna Brennan are among the younger. He served two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps 1st Force Reconnaissance Team and she was in the Navy. Both teach at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and they brought, Harvey, Chris Brennan's service dog with them.

Asked why they came, Chris Brennan said, "It's a given. It is great opportunity to remember the meaning of Memorial Day."

Chris Brennan said he has a huge amount of respect for those who died defending their country and once stopped at a St. Simons Island cemetery during a run and reflected and prayed at a grave with an American flag. …

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