Hundreds gather to place flags at Black Hills National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day

STURGIS, S.D. — Hundreds of people spent their Sunday morning at the Black Hills National Cemetery helping plant flags at each grave site ahead of Memorial Day.

More than 30,000 people are interred at the cemetery, which covers nearly 300 acres just south of Sturgis.

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Tens of thousands of flags are planted at Black Hills National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day (photo date: May 29, 2022)

With the help of everyone – from young children to older veterans, active duty military, friends, family, and thankful supporters – each site was marked with an American flag.

It’s all done by hand and truly a sight to see – a reminder of the real reason behind the holiday.

“When you’re out enjoying your family, your barbecues, and things like that, take some time today – pause for a moment and remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice again so we enjoy our freedoms that we enjoy today,” says Chad Hartley with the Militiamen, a veterans motorcycle organization.

Hartley and other members of the militiamen say Memorial Day is not about thanking the living veterans for their service, but about remembering those that gave all.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be here. Their sacrifice, and our freedom we still have, if it weren’t for them, I don’t know where we’d be today,” says Walter O’Rourke, another member of the Militiamen.

The decorations will remain up until after Memorial Day, before volunteers return to pick up each flag and store them until next year.

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Coins are left on a headstone at Black Hills National Cemetery. Leaving a penny means you visited; a nickel means you trained at boot camp with the deceased; a dime means you served with them in some capacity; a quarter means you were there when they died.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, ConnectCenter1-Military, Local News, South Dakota News