Mountain Home National Cemetery veteran graves decorated with American flag

Becky Campbell • May 25, 2019 at 9:45 PM

It took less than two hours for hundreds of people, a majority of whom were with Scout groups from across the area, to put out more than 14,000 American flags on the graves of veterans interred at Mountain Home National Cemetery Saturday ahead of a Memorial Day service slated for Monday.

The Scouts gathered at the gazebo on the VA campus, then marched behind a contingent of ROTC members, a veterans group honor guard and a bagpipe player. The Scouts lined up along the fence that borders Veterans Way, and with a volley of gunfire from the honor guard, and playing of Taps, everyone descended into the cemetery and began placing flags on each grave.

Brothers Gary and Gene Pickle said it was the first time they have participated in Decoration Day at the cemetery, but they felt it was an important step in remembering, and thanking, veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Cadet Master Sgt. Michael Terry, one of 14 Science Hill High School ROTC cadets who participated, said he and the other cadets volunteered for the event to “honor the veterans who fought and died for our country. We’ve always been proud to do it. On a personal level, I have family members buried here.”

Misty Macal was there with her husband and brother-in-law.

“All gave some, but some gave all,” Macal said. For her, the upcoming Memorial Day isn’t a day for celebratory gatherings.

It’s a day to remember.

“This is a day we won’t be going to the lake or on a picnic,” she said. “This is a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Interim Cemetery Director Bill Hartley said the event has “been going on many, many years. We do this prior to our program on Memorial Day. The Scouts spearhead it, but we have a lot of people who come out. We welcome everybody to come out and participate.”

Monday’s Memorial Day program will recognize “all the veterans that have sacrificed for our country so we have the freedoms we have today,” he said.

The program will be held on the front lawn at the VA near the gazebo at 11 a.m.

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