SAN ANTONIO – National cemeteries are often remembered for their long rows of tombstones and well manicured lawns as the grounds are kept clean to honor the military members who are laid to rest there.
On Memorial Day, the rows of gravesites at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery will be accompanied with U.S. flags, a tradition that was briefly put on pause when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Morrison Fussner, the Founder and President of the nonprofit Flags for Fallen Vets, is hoping to carry on the holiday tradition.
The group is bringing flags to national cemeteries in several states. Fussner is a third-generation Marine and lives in Cleburne, Texas. He remembers wondering why flags weren’t placed at the national cemetery there, and with encouragement from his wife, he asked why the grounds were left bare on Memorial Day.
“(It) turns out the VA doesn’t place flags at any national cemetery, it’s the community that does it,” Fussner said.
Fussner said he then started his mission to help honor veterans in this special way back in 2012. As word spread, Flags for Fallen Vets has grown. The group is now placing flags at 11 national cemeteries, and this will be the first year the group will carry out the tradition at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
3,000 volunteers have already signed up to help place the flags in San Antonio. The flags will be placed the day before Memorial Day.
Fussner said team leaders will walk volunteers through the process. Each flag is placed one foot out from the center of the headstone and the veteran’s name is said aloud, to thank them for their service.
“Each volunteer will get 40 flags to place. So, you know, the first year, with everyone being new, it will probably take about three hours,” Fussner said.
The flags will be left on the sites for about a week before they are picked up. Flags for Fallen Vets still needs about 200 volunteers to help pick up the flags. They are also in need of pallets to help dry the flags before they are put away in storage.
If you would like to help with the task, you can do so by clicking here.