Flags being placed in Riverside Cemetery to honor veterans

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 4:19 PM CDT
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With Memorial Day less than a week away, and COVID-19 still lingering, communities are rethinking how to honor those who served. While Appleton is moving its Memorial Day ceremony to an online remembrance, one tradition is not changing at all.

The Appleton Memorial Day parade won't be marching down College Avenue on Monday morning, because of the coronavirus pandemic, but that isn't stopping the city from setting the stage for the observance. And volunteers are reporting for duty at Riverside Cemetery. They're participating in the annual tradition that honors the veterans who are laid to rest there.

"We've been doing this for close to 20 years, we do it every year, so it's one of the highlights of our summer," says John Rochon of Appleton.

Even though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration made the announcement that group placement of flags at gravesites at national cemeteries will not take place, a team of at least 25 volunteers was determined to honor veterans locally. It's an observance no one was willing to dismiss.

According to Laureal Sternhagen of Appleton, "I think people need to realize, they were over there, no matter what. Pandemic or not it's still something that we need to do as a patriotic community being the good citizens that we are, we really should honor the people that have brought us here."

To protect themselves, volunteers are wearing masks and practicing social distancing, on a mission to remember those who gave so much.

"It really means a lot to honor. Honor is something that we all should have and pride. Pride in our country, pride in our flag," adds Nancy Peterson.

With 1700 flags to be placed, volunteers will work on Wednesday before finishing the job on Thursday. The flags are expected to stay up through Flag Day in June.

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