BRAWLEY — More than 1,152 American flags for Memorial Day weekend were placed on grave sites throughout Riverview Cemetery early Saturday morning in remembrance and honor for the veterans that served in the United States military.
The Brawley cemetery contains men and woman who fought and served for the United States dating as far back as the Spanish-American War and as recent as the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The local flag placing tradition began with the late Pete Schoonover more than 15 years ago.
Schoonover would mark by hand a small “V” in the corner of each veteran’s gravesite or headstone, to keep track of the many veterans in the cemetery, according to Donald A. Lambe, a Korean War veteran and American Legion member who served in the Navy. Lambe has organized the event for the 12 years since Schoonover passed away.
Instead of walking up and down each aisle of the cemetery marking the veterans’ graves, Lambe requested a list of veterans from the Riverview Cemetery office and gave the list to the volunteer groups organized by cemetery section. Now he walks the aisles to make sure no one was left out or forgotten.
Members from both Magnolia and M&M 4-H clubs of Brawley showed up bright and early volunteering their time to help Lambe place American flags on each appropriate grave site. Armed with a list of names and an armful of flags, they walked down each aisle in search of Brawley’s veterans.
“We’re doing this for the people that served our country,” said M&M 4-H member Jaelyn Hernandez, age 10.
Magnolia and M&M 4-H have been placing flags on Memorial Day weekend for the past 15 years, according to M&M 4-H community leader, Karen Constable.
“It’s very rewarding for the kids,” said Constable.
Lambe explained that the process of placing a flag on each veteran’s gravesite used to take over two weeks. Now with the help of local 4-H groups, and a few extra volunteers from Brawley, the process lasted less than three hours.
“We really, really appreciate their help,” said Lambe. “They understand the meaning of honoring the veterans for what they have done for us.”[envira-gallery id=”58079”]