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American Legion family of organizations will flag veterans' graves for 4th year

The American Legion family of organizations will flag the graves of veterans for the fourth year in a row at Shelby City cemeteries on Thursday, May 25, beginning at 6 p.m., at Sunset and Webb Memorial Cemeteries.

Memorial Day (May 29, 2023) is a national day to honor those veterans by placing a flag on their grave. This was a tradition that started in America after the Civil War. The U.S. Army Third Regiment, the Old Guard, will place flags on each of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. This ceremony is called 'Flags In.' We may not know them all, but we owe them all for the freedoms we enjoy each day.

Shelby City cemeteries have over 1,200 veterans' graves that have been identified honoring those who served from the American Revolutionary War to the present day. Sunset Cemetery has nine Civil War unknown soldiers' grave markers, four Confederate and five Union soldiers. They will be honored as part of the ceremonies.

The community has supported the Sons of the American Legion Squadron #82, and the other American Legion organizations each year. Boy Scout troops, student athletes from Shelby High School, Shelby Masonic Lodge #744, members of the American Legion Baseball and Ladies Fastpitch teams have helped to flag the graves and learn about those who served our nation.

Zach Parker, Sons of the American Legion Squadron #82's Commander, explained this was the first project the Squadron adopted when it was formed in November 2019. "In April 2020, members of the Legion Post, Auxiliary, and Squadron walked the two cemeteries to identify where veterans were buried. Since then, we have had families approach us and tell us that there was a veteran in their family, and they would like us to place a flag on the relative's grave." At the entrance of each cemetery, additional flags are placed for families to place on the grave of one who served their nation in the military.

Volunteers may join the American Legion groups at Sunset Cemetery, Sumter St., Shelby at 6 p.m., on May 25. There will be a brief ceremony honoring those veterans who were laid to rest, the Post #82 Color Guard and Rifle Squad will offer a rifle salute, and "Taps" will be played to end the program. Following the ceremony, nine teams of volunteers will place flags on the graves of over 850 veterans at Sunset Cemetery.

Martha Bridges, Commander of Warren F. Hoyle American Legion Post 82, Shelby, said, "Placing the flag on a veterans grave is an act of respect and honor for the ones who served their country." As part of the ceremony, participants are asked when they place the flag on the veteran's grave to step back from the marker, read the name of the individual, their branch of service and years of service, then say a prayer and say, "Thank you for your service."

At Webb Memorial Cemetery, Eaves Rd., volunteers will be divided into six groups to place flags on over 340 graves of veterans in Webb Memorial Cemetery. At 7 p.m., the ceremony honoring our veterans will be repeated at Webb Memorial.

If you are interested in helping to flag graves of veterans on Thursday, May, 25, show up at Sunset or Webb Cemetery at 6 p.m., and you will be assigned to a group to place flags on the graves.

If you have questions about volunteering or obtaining a flag for the grave of a veteran, please contact me (Dr. Weller) at (704) 473-5282.

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