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Hundreds of flags placed on unmarked graves for Memorial Day

WSBT 22

One group hopes to remind everyone of the true meaning behind Memorial Day -- sacrifice.

Many people honoring loved ones they’ve lost. Throughout the weekend people will be visiting graves. Dropping off flowers or putting in flags, especially at the Veterans Section.

Every grave tells a story. Some tell a story of sacrifice.

"Just seeing that they've served and they're unmarked in a time when there's so many marked graves we just feel like we can do our small little part of honoring them and keep their memories and service alive,” said Jim McKinnies with Homes for Heroes.

Hundreds of flags sit in the veterans’ section of St. Joseph Valley's Cemetery. But this isn't the only place that veterans were laid to rest.

"There's so many out here in the general population that also served," said McKinnies.

That's why he and his group decided to honor those graves too-- placing an American flag near the tombstone.

"There's people that have given their life for us to enjoy these freedoms that we take for granted so often,” said McKinnies.

Rick Switalski is a part of Home for Heroes. Each year he honors these veterans.

There's one vet buried here that hits close to home for him-- his friend Mark Lennon.

"I met him at IUSB. We started going to classes together and wound up enlisting," said Switalski.

After three years of service, Rick came home. His 21-year-old friend Mark, did not.

"When Mark was killed he probably had about six to seven months left on his tour,” Switalski said.

"He was my best friend, and we did a lot of things together and we were planning on getting out together and it didn't work out together so you never know,” he said.

Switalski says he's tried to live his life honoring Mark's memory.

These flags are a small token of appreciation and honor for the men and women, like Mark.

A final home of the brave.

"I know that there's people that would love to be with their friends and family that have given their life for me to be with my friends and family, so I just try to live up to that every day," McKinnies said.

The group placed 108 flags on unmarked graves Friday. But they only did one small area of the cemetery.

McKinnies says even if they brought 500 flags he doesn't think it would cover the entirety of the cemetery.

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