Liz Bleaser was one of the few Idahoans grateful for a rainy start to her Memorial Day weekend.
“It makes the ground soft,” Liz Bleaser, Regent of the Fort Hall chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as she pressed a screwdriver into the grass to make a hole and put a small American flag in it’s stead.
“We are making sure that we look at each headstone and if they were a service member, then we put a flag on the upper left-hand part of the little headstone,” Bleaser said. “We’re making sure all the veterans have a flag for Memorial Day.”
The Daughters of the American Revolution have been placing flags on the graves of veterans for several years now, Bleaser says. While most of the work is simply walking the entirety of Fielding Memorial Cemetery and Rose Hill Cemetery in Idaho Falls looking for military designations on headstones, not every military service member has a designation on their grave.
“Over the course of years, we’ve had families call us right after Memorial Day and say, ‘For some reason you missed our relatives,'” Darrel Homer, Post Commander of the American Legion Post 56 in Idaho Falls, said. “We make every attempt to hit every veteran that we know about, the list of unmarked graves has just kind of grown over the years.”
In Fielding Memorial Cemetery, there are 35 undesignated military graves. In Rose Hill Cemetery, the list is 135.
“We put out the resources of how they can get the veteran’s medallions through the Veterans Administration and that’s absolutely free of charge to the family…a benefit that’s already afforded to them,” Homer said.
Which, for the volunteers who come to decorate the graves, is the perfect way to start their Memorial Day weekend.
“[It’s a] chance to honor our brothers and sisters,” Homer said. “There’s a lot of the veterans that never actually got the chance to take their uniform off when they answered the call of our nation’s call to arms. It just gives us a chance to pay tribute to them, they afford us so many freedoms that a lot of people take for granted today.”
Four hours later, the cemetery is dotted with American flags on each row.
“It’s part of Memorial Day,” Liam Kelly, a veteran and member of the American Legion, said. “It’s just our way of showing remembrance and thanks by placing the flag and you know, I served, so I hope one day that when I’m deceased, someone will do this for me.”
Still looking for a way to honor our local veterans? Check out the events below:
Field of Honor (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Come enjoy the 5th annual Field of Honor in Idaho Falls. The display of 1,000 flags is put on by the Idaho Falls Exchange Club and honors veterans and first responders.
The flag display will be set up Friday evening, but the official event begins Saturday, May 27 at 10 a.m. and continues throughout the weekend. There will also be adignified flag disposal ceremony on Sunday, May 28 at 1:30 p.m.
“If you’ve got some old, tattered flags sitting around the house, at 1:30 on Sunday we’re going to have a dignified flag disposal,” David Smith, president of the project and one of the co-founders, told KID Newsradio. “So, if you’ve got one of those sitting around, you don’t know what to do, how to do it correctly, bring it out and we’ll take care of it there.”
The event takes place at Russell Freeman Park in Idaho Falls.
For more information, click here.
Field of Heroes (Pocatello, Idaho)
The Field of Heroes is a one of a kind tribute to every service member who has died in Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001, according to the Idaho State Journal. The event is open to the public all weekend and includes a full schedule of events.
• Friday, May 26: 10 a.m. dedication ceremony and 6 p.m., youth and flag-folding ceremony.
• Saturday, May 27: 8 a.m. there will be an Idaho Field of Heroes Run to Remember and children activities at noon. At 2 p.m., USO Show 2017.
• Sunday, May 28: Leavitt Center Performance will be at 6 p.m. and at 8 p.m. will be the Silent Wounds candlelight vigil.
• Monday, May 29: At 5:45 p.m., there will be the POW*MIA Thunder Run tribute, followed by the closing ceremony at 6 p.m.