Placing flags on the graves of veterans at cemeteries in the Seymour area for Memorial Day has been a longstanding tradition for American Legion Post 89.

It’s something Legion members and the many volunteers who help out each year say they do with pride.

“I think we need to respect and honor the ones who give us the freedom we enjoy today,” said Larry Shelly, the commander at Post 89.

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The group spends hours in the days leading up to Memorial Day walking through Riverview Cemetery and the old City Cemetery on the north side of the city placing the flags on or near the stones of each veterans. Flags also are placed on the graves of those veterans resting at other cemeteries including Lutheran Cemetery on the city’s west side and St. Ambrose Catholic Church, and veterans from other communities in the county take care of the graves of veterans in those places.

The flags placed on the graves are a way to recognize those who died in the service of their country while fighting for their fellow countrymen and women.

Jan Carter is one the many people who can faithfully be found placing flags on graves at Riverview each year.

“The veterans did a lot more for me than I’m doing for them,” Carter said.

She said she’s been participating in the flag program for 15 to 20 years now.

“It’s an honor,” Carter said.

Carter’s family has been heavily involved in the military, with her grandfather, dad, brother, son-in-law, nephew and uncle all serving in one branch or another of the military. Even as an employee at the American Legion Carter said one of her greatest motivations for placing the flags has been the veterans themselves.

“We only have a few (volunteers) every year, but we get them all done” Carter said.

Jack Schrader, a past commander at Post 89, agreed.

“They’re doing what should be done to honor all departed vets,” Schrader said.

The group tries to place a flag at every veteran gravestone with a veteran plaque for Memorial Day, but sometimes graves can be overlooked.

“Unless you know the person or there’s a plaque it’s hard,” Schrader said. “The older members use to know all the previous veterans personally. We’re a younger group now; there’s no possible way we could know everyone. We might have missed a few.”

If a grave of a veteran doesn’t have a flag and a family wishes to get one for them, they can contact the American Legion.

Plaques are placed only on graves of those that have military discharge papers to prove service and at the request of family. Funeral homes often take care of arranging for plaques at the time of death.

The group this year consisted of 12 volunteers from the American Legion but more are always welcome.

“We’re pretty well covered but we could always use more. You’re missing the opportunity to come out and honor those that made this country what it really is,” Shelly said.

If you go

Memorial Services in Jackson County

American Legion Camp Jackson Post 112 in Brownstown will conduct a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, at Fairview Cemetery. Bill McCormick will be guest speaker.

Crothersville 11 a.m. Monday, Crothersville Cemetery. There will be food and drinks available at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1083 at 105 W. Main St.

Seymour 11 a.m. Monday, Riverview Cemetary along Veteran’s Row. It will be held inside at the American Legion Annex in the event of rain.

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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.