HELENA – Over two dozen volunteers gathered at Fort Harrison over the weekend to honor the veterans buried at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery.
They placed almost 3,000 flags, one at each headstone, and more lining the drive around the cemetery.
Kelly Ackerman, administrator of the Montana Veterans Affairs Division, said she was surprised and grateful that so many people turned out to help.
“It’s tremendous to see the community understand the importance and the value of honoring our fallen soldiers and airmen,” she said.
The volunteers included family members of veterans buried at the cemetery, along with representatives from the American Legion.
Others were with the Civil Air Patrol, which has been placing flags at the Fort Harrison cemetery since 2001.
Maj. Spencer Gilchrist said it’s important to teach CAP cadets about the sacrifice fallen service members made for the country. “It’s a way to let the cadets have that experience.”
The cemetery at Fort Harrison is one of three operated by the Montana Veterans Affairs Division, part of the Montana Department of Military Affairs. The others are the Eastern Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Miles City and the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula.
“Everything that we do is to help veterans, and when the community comes forward to help our deceased veterans on Memorial Day, it means a lot,” Ackerman said.
The American Legion will host a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort Harrison cemetery at noon on Thursday, May 30 – the traditional date for Memorial Day.
The flags will remain in place until next Saturday when volunteers will come back to remove them.
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News