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‘Good lesson’

Young volunteers placing flags on vet grave markers

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Scottlynn, 9 (at left), and Madalynn, 15, Perry place flags Thursday in veterans markers at St. Joseph Cemetery. The sisters have been helping place flags prior to Memorial Day for seven years.

Some youthful volunteers were out honoring veterans at St. Joseph Cemetery on Thursday.

Four young ladies, none of them yet 16 years of age, did the bulk of the work of placing flags in the 1,200 veterans markers at the cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day.

Scottlynn (9) and Madalynn (15) Perry have years of experience, but it was the first year for Harper Christie (7) and Madison McDunn (13).

The Perrys look forward to the event, their mother, Jennifer, said. “My youngest was so excited for ‘flag day.'”

The children’s uncle and great-grandparents served in the armed forces. “It’s a good lesson to teach them,” Jennifer Perry said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Harper Christie, 7 (at right), and Madison McDunn, 13, place flags Thursday in veterans markers at St. Joseph Cemetery.

There are several levels to having youth help with the planting of flags, Cemetery Superintendent Shawn Young said.

“With school being out and the virus, I thought it was a good thing to offer to some kids who are stuck at home,” he said.

He knew McDunn and Christie regularly visit their grandparents’ graves in the cemetery and asked if they would like a chance to get out of the house and help.

They did so without hesitation.

All of the volunteers were enthusiastic, sometimes dancing on their way to the next marker. But, they also understood the gravity of what they were doing.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Harper Christie, 7, collects a bundle of flags Thursday to place at veterans' graves at St. Joseph Cemetery.

“My grandpa fought in Desert Storm,” McDunn said. “He was in the Navy. I didn’t know how many people who are buried here fought until I started doing this.”

Christie said she would be back to place flags again next year.

Scout groups often help with the placement of flags, but those groups are not allowed to get together under the COVID-19 response. Without that help, some cemeteries lose their usual volunteer force prior to Memorial Day.

Young said he hopes that other young people, looking for something constructive to do, will help at other cemeteries.

Those who are interested may contact someone in charge of a cemetery, or reach out to the Warren County Veterans Affairs Office at 728-3478 for contact information.

“It’s great to teach the kids that kind of respect,” Assistant Superintendent Dave Huling said.

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