Boy Scout Troop 81 of Patterson continued their annual Memorial Day tradition on May 28 by lining the walkways of the Patterson District Cemetery with flags. The troop raised over 400 flags throughout their hours of work.
One team rounded the cemetery, pulling plugs out of concrete holes, while another team came behind and inserted the flags.
Julian, Bernardo, Mitchell, and Ivan were the first four there. They said they were doing the task out of patriotic duty.
This tradition, called the Avenue of Flags, reached its 52nd anniversary this year. For years, the Elijah B. Hayes post of the American Legion had been adorning the cemetery with small American flags and white crosses. They stepped out of tradition in 1969, deciding to fly the large flags given to families at military funerals, and donating them for temporary use from military families.
During the first year, 30 flags flew above the graves. By 2019 around 180 flags lined the avenue: this year’s count more than doubled with over 400 flags.
The Boy Scouts took over the project in the early 1980s, and have been fulfilling it for over 35 years. The same troop spreads flags around downtown on Memorial Day morning.
The American Heritage Girls group CA1012 also attended the Patterson District Cemetery to plant flags and crosses at the graves of over 400 departed Patterson soldiers. The half-dozen attendees worked for hours to distribute the memorials at the fallen troops’ final resting place.
Gabrielle and her brother Alex, part of the local Trail Life group, were two of the flag raising participants. This year was their second time attending the event. They believe it is their patriotic duty to honor the sacrifices of soldiers.
Memorial Day has special meaning to four sisters Valerie, Eilenn, Elaina, and Vivian. Their dad served in the Marine Corps before suffering a traumatic brain injury in Iraq and retiring from active duty.
The sisters have attended the outing for four years.
By late afternoon, the flags and crosses had all been placed, painting an inspiring scene for the Memorial Day service scheduled to take place three days later.