On May 30, 1868, Gen. John A. Logan visited Arlington National Cemetery to speak at a ceremony for what was then called Decoration Day — and in doing so, set a precedent that holds to this Day. Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day traditions such as parades, visiting cemeteries, and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy to remember those fallen in war and a practice starting during WW 1.
A highly recognized Memorial Day tradition includes placing a small American flag by the graveside of the fallen hero. From the military, veteran organizations, Boy & Girl Scouts, and individual patriots, over a million flags are vibrantly displayed across the nation’s cemeteries.
Over 1,000 members of the United States military place miniature US flags in front of around 260,000 headstones across Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day, as part of a yearly tradition honoring members who died while serving in the military. Along with Arlington, there are hundreds of similar events that take place across the country.
One such organization is Operation Flags for Vets, started by Gold Star father, Paul Monti. He wanted to honor all the veterans buried at the cemetery, including his son, Medal of Honor recipient, Army Sgt. Jared Monti who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. (see his bio).
On Veterans Day 2006, 5 months after Jared was KIA, Paul Monti noticed not a single Flag on the graves of Our Heroes. Approaching the cemetery administration to ask why Flags were not on the graves since it is a state law, Mr. Monti was told it was federal property and interfered with groundskeeping.
It took 4 1/2 years, but Mr. Monti was finally able to get the policy changed. Since Memorial Day 2011 at National Cemetery at Bourne, MA, Flags fly proudly on the graves of Our Nation’s Heroes on both Memorial and Veterans Day!
As our country celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, let’s honor not only our fallen service members but the thousands of volunteers and organizations that work tirelessly to speak on behalf of a grateful nation. And in most cases, their cause is supported financially out of their pocket or from donations. Find a way to share your blessings with them this year – either financially or through a prayer of thanks.
Support the SFC Jared C. Monti Memorial Scholarship Fund.