OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Thousands of American flags have been placed on gravesites at Westlawn-Hillcrest Cemetery in Omaha, honoring veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
It’s all part of the Centennial Lodge #326 Memorial Day Flag Project.
The project originated in 2009 but has grown into something much larger today.
“It started out in the original year with 1,700 flags and 12 volunteers, and it took us a week,” Organizer Carl Diamond said. “Now we’re up to 250 volunteers, 8,600 flags, and we get it done in about four hours.”
The list of veterans will continue to grow this weekend.
Diamond and Centennial Lodge #326 will be there Thursday through Memorial Day, answering family questions and adding more veterans to its list.
Volunteer numbers are expected to increase as well.
“Last year when we came out for our first time, we had 30 volunteers come and plant flags at the gravesites. This year we had 50 and the sign up was basically immediate,” Volunteer with NFM Andy Shefsky said.
“A veteran never dies until they are forgotten. So as long as we have people coming out here to put the flags on the gravesites, we get the young people out here,” Diamond said. “Hopefully someone will take this program over for me someday. I’m a veteran, 20 years in the navy, and somebody will be putting a flag on my grave someday too.”
If you missed out, you can still volunteer to help pick the flags up. That will take place on June 5 at 10:30 a.m.
Westlawn-Hillcrest supplies all of the flags and purchased 3,000 new ones this year. It says it’s thankful for Diamond and all the volunteers, and without their work, would struggle to find a way to place flags at individual gravesites to honor our veterans.
Sometime around the 4th of July a flag retirement ceremony for the damaged flags will be held.