A couple of days ago I read in the newspaper that they were looking for volunteers to help set up a couple thousand flags in the cemetery. The old, shy me would have thought about it, but not called the phone number from the article unless someone was going with me. I thought about it for a day and decided, yes you want to do this, no you don't need someone to hold your hand. I am SO glad I went. Volunteers were to meet there at 6 am. That 5 am alarm wasn't so nice, but it was worth it. They tell you what to do and you pick a truck and follow it to it's starting point. The trucks are loaded down with hundreds of flags each, all marked with a name and number. The poles are already on the ground next to their holes. You get into teams of 3 or 4 and just start wiping down poles and hanging up flags. They tell you there is no rush, it is meant to be a somber experience. You are careful to not let the flags ever touch the ground. It is quite humbling to be in the presence of so many men with their uniforms, shirts, and hats that say "POW, Purple Heart, Silver Star, etc.". I had the pleasure of hanging flags with a man named Richard and his wife. He was in Vietnam, and he had lost family members in the Korean and Iraq wars. Seriously, what can you possibly say to these men and women? There are no words that can ever measure up to their sacrifice. Crawling out of bed early on a holiday and walking a couple of miles to hang flags is nothing.
I will be sure to go back next year. Way more meaningful than a BBQ, although we'll be doing that later as well. ;)