SIERRA VISTA — Eleven-year-old Lauren Knecht, a member of Girl Scout Troop 104, was one of several scouts placing American flags at the gravesites of veterans Saturday at Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista.
Every year on the Saturday before the Memorial Day observance, groups of scouts, veterans’ organizations and community volunteers gather at 8 a.m. with hammers in hand to set flags at each headstone as well as the rows of Columbaria. Once placed, the flags create a sea of red, white and blue as they flutter in the breeze, a solemn remembrance to those who have died while serving their country.
“This is the fifth year I’ve helped with the flags,” Kencht said. “We do it to show our respect for the veterans and to remember them.”
Chanelle Von Kohler, 6, is one of the younger members of Brownie Troop 419 who helped with the flags.
“We need to remember the soldiers that died,” she said. “So that’s why we’re putting the flags here.”
Madeline Wallace, 11, a Girl Scout with Troop 104, said the flag placement activity is something she’s been doing for a number of years, and because of close family ties to the military, the activity is very important to her.
“I’m an Army brat and have a lot of relatives in the military,” she said. “It’s really important that all of us come here like this and place the flags so they’re here for the Memorial Day service.”
Cub Scout Pack 431 had about 15 of its members at the flag placement, said Joe Canfield, one of the pack leaders, whose 8-year-old son, Joseph, was busy hammering a flag into the ground.
“We bring our Cub Scouts here every year for this,” Canfield said.
Describing herself as a “multigenerational military brat and military spouse” whose husband is in Korea, Cassia Magnone is another Pack 431 leader.
She was at the placement activity with her three children.
“I started doing flag placement when I was five,” she said. “My family has been in every branch of service there is and my husband is in the Army. We do this for every flag placement, including Veterans Day and Wreaths Across America in December.”
While scouts, parents and volunteers had a big role in Saturday’s activity, motorcycle clubs and retired military veterans also participated.
“We’re here every year to help with the flag placement,” said Mike Rustene of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. “Our chapter chaplain, Mike Kennedy died two years ago and is buried here, so we visit him while we’re here for the flag placement.”
The Memorial Day observance at the Southern Arizona Veterans Cemetery starts at 8 a.m.