Honoring those who sacrificed

Flags placed by volunteers covered the Cullman City Cemetery in remembrance of those who served in the United States Armed Forces. (Gauge Day)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Volunteers gathered at the Cullman City Cemetery on Friday, May 24, to honor those who served in the United States Armed Forces by placing flags at their graves. Under the guidance of the Cullman VFW, community members walked the cemetery, identifying the gravestones of past service members and placing American flags.

VFW Chaplain Gary Rodgers opened the memorial event with an impassioned prayer and spoke about the importance of the day.

“While you are doing this, I ask everybody to remember and keep in your hearts what the people died for, what they lived for and how they lived,” Rodgers shared.

Rodgers went on to share why the event is held every year, “We come out here every year to the City Gardens (sic) and we also do the Memory Gardens to put flags out to remember all that have fallen and that gave their lives for this country. There is no other sacrifice greater than for man to lay his life down for another.”

Among the volunteers were multiple Scout troops, including Blount and Cullman County Service Unit 20602, as well as numerous Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. They joined VFW members and their families in ensuring that each military gravestone was marked with an American flag.

DeeAnn Collins, a leader from Girl Scout Troop 20602, highlighted the importance of her troop’s participation, “We felt like it was important to give back to those who gave so much for us,” Collins stated. “They love doing it. This is our third year doing it and it has gotten bigger and bigger. We started out my first year with two girls, and now there are 15 here.”

With spikes and flags in hand, community members, including families, scout troops, youth groups, veterans and other participants, walked the cemetery rows, seeking the graves of those to be remembered. As they found names and set flags in place, many took time to reflect on the significance of the freedom provided by the courage, bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces.

Some volunteers found not just strangers to be presented flags, but also family members who had passed on – and had the honor of presenting a flag to their family members’ gravestones themselves.

Charles Lee with his two brothers and mother, Jenee Lee, were one such family. Charles Lee, part of Boy Scout Troop 219, got the opportunity to learn about those family members and have the honor with his brothers of placing flags by their gravestones.

Charles Lee and two of his brothers stand before the Thiot and Sims gravestones, which included family members of theirs who had served in the United States Armed Forces. (Gauge Day)

“I got to learn about some family members I never knew I had. My great-great-grandfather and my great-great-great-grandfather are all buried over there,” he shared.

As all the proud graves of past service members were eventually draped with the view of an American flag, a gentle rain began to fall, adding a touching moment to the remembrance of those who have fallen and served to provide the freedoms that all Americans enjoy today.

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