KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, volunteers gathered at the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday to help place flags at the headstones of our fallen troops.
The Boy Scouts typically spearhead this annual event, but we’re told The Great Smoky Mountain Council and the VA made the decision for them not to participate because of coronavirus concerns.
Volunteers met at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery along Lyon’s Drive at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 20.
In order to comply with CDC guidelines, volunteers were asked to space out, stay in groups of four or less and bring your own tool to dig the hole for the flags.
The event usually sees around 250 people helping place flags at the headstones, but this year only saw around 100 folks as they decided not to publicize as much as they normally would due to coronavirus concerns, according to Kevin Knowles, a directer of the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.
Each flag was accompanied by the name of the fallen soldier, an added way to recognize and honor the heroes who fought for our freedom, something event coordinators asked people to think about doing instead of just putting the flag in the ground.
“You say the name, it brings them back to life; they still exist,” Lisa Olgesby, a veteran, said.
People of all ages volunteered their time, some who do the flag-placing annually and some who participated for the first time.
Lori Parker took her daughter Savannah to help place the flags. Lori’s father and grandfather served in the U.S. Army and she wanted to instill in her daughter the importance of recognizing and honoring the people who sacrificed their lives for our country.
“It’s important to teach my daughter the respect of the country and just how thankful we are for our freedom,” Lori said with her daughter by her side.
Even though coronavirus concerns slightly altered the yearly tradition, it did not deter volunteers from paying their respects to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
Dian Shackleford, a veteran who partakes every year started to choke up as she said, “these men and women gave it all—it’s the least we can do.”
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