Flags placed to remember veterans

Published 10:48 pm Friday, November 8, 2019

Nearly 100 people placed about 9,000 flags beside gravesites on a chilly and windy Friday afternoon at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in advance of Veterans Day.

Among the people placing flags, many were from local or regional veterans’ groups, children’s groups and Ruritans.

Six-year-old Aria Brouckaert placed 70 flags beside gravesites, while her parents Jonathan and Margaret Brouckaert put down another 30 to 50 flags.

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“We wouldn’t have missed it,” Margaret Brouckaert said. “It’s a great opportunity to do something so simple to give back.”

Aria Brouckaert, as part of American Heritage Girls Troop 1412, was participating for the third year. Her mom said she is learning valuable lessons as a result.

“I feel like she’s learning what it means to respect those who fought for her country, and that gave for the freedom that she has,” Margaret Brouckaert said.

Denis Confer of VFW Post 2582 and American Legion Post 57 said he purchases the flags with support from many groups. He said he comes from a military family and has a son who served in the Marine Corps. He thinks it’s important that people show their patriotism and appreciation for those who served and have died.

“I’m retired Navy, so it’s just my contribution back to folks that sacrificed, probably, more than I did for the 22 years (that I served),” Confer said. “So that’s why I think that it’s important to do this because I think, in some regards, we see less and less of it, and what’s really concerning is we see less and less individuals wanting to join veterans’ organizations that are key into this.”

Dan Kemano, the state director of cemeteries who oversees the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery — which has about 13,000 people buried there among the 9,000 gravesites — said flags have been placed beside gravesites there for 14 years. He said it originally started with the Ruritans’ Bethlehem chapter and escalated from there.

“It’s tremendous, the enthusiasm to come out, particularly on a cold day like this,” Kemano said. “And a lot of these folks don’t have anybody buried out here. They’re coming out here because they’re enthusiastic about what’s going on.”

Kemano said the Avenue of Flags would go up Monday morning and line the area from the entrance gate down to the committal shelter.

Roger Williams, who is a Ruritan Club member, was participating in the flag-placing for the first time. He said the event was special to him with his father having served in the Navy, and said he was pleased to see so many younger people out at the cemetery placing flags.

“It means a lot to me, since I had my dad, he was in Korea and World War II,” Williams said.