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American Legion to honor graves of Veterans May 23

Join us for the fifth year as the American Legion family of organizations flags the graves of veterans at Shelby City cemeteries on Thursday, May 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Sunset and Webb Memorial Cemeteries.

Over the years, over 1,390 veterans' graves have been identified in the two cemeteries honoring veterans who served from the American Revolutionary War to the present day. Memorial Day is a national day to honor those veterans who have died by placing a flag on their graves.

This tradition started in America after the Civil War. Sunset Cemetery has nine grave markers for Civil War unknown soldiers, four Confederate soldiers, and five Union soldiers. They will be honored during the ceremonies.

The community has supported the Sons of the American (SAL) Legion Squadron #82 and the other American Legion organizations each year. Boy Scout troops, student-athletes from Shelby High School, Masonic Lodge members, Shelby Rotary, American Legion Baseball team players, and community volunteers help flag the graves and learn about those who served our nation.

Zach Parker, SAL Squadron #82 Commander, explained that this was the first project the Squadron adopted when it was formed in November 2019. "In April 2020, members of the American Legion Post, the Auxiliary, and SAL 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 their relatives grave."

For families whose veteran's grave is not marked with a military service plaque, extra flags are placed at the entrance at Sunset and Webb Cemeteries for the family to place on their loved one's grave.

A few days before flagging the graves, members of SAL Squadron 82 divide the flags into groups so that each section of the two cemeteries will have flags for volunteers to place on the graves.

Volunteers may join the American Legion groups at Sunset Cemetery, Sumter St., Shelby on Thursday, May 23 at 5:30 pm. There will be a brief ceremony, a rifle salute, and taps played by the Post #82 Color Guard and Rifle Squad. Following the ceremony, volunteers will be divided into nine teams who will place flags on the graves of over 850 veterans at Sunset Cemetery.

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

Volunteers will be divided into three groups at Webb Memorial Cemetery, Eaves Road to place flags on over 340 veterans' graves. At 6:30 p.m., the ceremony honoring our veterans will be repeated at Webb Memorial with the rifle salute and playing of taps.

If you are interested in helping to flag veterans' graves on Thursday, May 23, come to either Sunset or Webb Cemetery at 5:30 p.m. You will be assigned to a group to place flags on the graves. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Jack Weller, SAL Squadron 82 Adjutant, at 704-473-5282.

Help the American Legion family of organizations remember and honor all who served their country this Memorial Day.

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