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Montana students take up tradition to honor veterans

Road side flags
Posted at 7:23 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 10:26:24-04

BILLINGS - Citizens in parts of Carbon County traditionally put out dog tags and crosses along the highways to honor veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Now students want to start that same tradition in Belfry and what started as a great idea continues to grow.

Roberts started honoring veterans along Highway 212 in 2015, by placing dog tags along the road for living veterans and crosses for those who have died.

The idea then spread from one community to the next on that highway and now to a whole new road as the Belfry FFA will soon pay tribute to veterans on the west side of Highway 72.

"We should honor our veterans just to show the families because I know that a lot of them are going through hard times," said Belfry FFA president Airallyn McClane. "And they have gone through hard times because of losses and things."

Belfry will be the fifth town in the county to show appreciation for military service members with these roadside displays.

The next step is asking the Montana Highway Commission to name the highways through Roberts, Joliet, Fromberg, Belfry and Red Lodge and call it the Carbon County Veterans Memorial Loop.

"It'll be a huge drive," said Belfry FFA co-advisor Sandra Campbell. "And there'll be crosses and dog tags for the whole carbon county when we're done."

Campbell — who helps the Belfry FFA — says the project is part of the student's community service initiatives.

"It's just an opportunity for them to become better citizens," Campbell said.

"This is a big way that we can impact them and start to create that culture amongst their youth of service and community and giving back," said Belfry FFA co-advisor Kasey McClane, who is Airallyn's mother.

The Roberts Activities Committee presented the FFA students at Belfry High School with $500 on Tuesday to get the project started.

"Pretty cool deal to come home and see the whole county behind all the men and women who serve this country," said Carbon County Commissioner Scott Miller, who is also a veteran.

"To see FFA chapters, these young kids trying to take on this project, it's wonderful," said Steve Keebler, Roberts Activities Committee president.

Campbell said the Belfry FFA plans on helping communities in Bear Creek, Washoe and Clark, Wyoming also get started with the veteran tribute.

The plan is to have the Belfry High School shop class make the dog tags and crosses and have them ready for Veterans Day.