Volunteers plant flags at veterans' cemetery for Memorial Day

Posted at 5:47 AM, May 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-26 05:47:17-04

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE/CNN) - Hundreds of volunteers visited the Santa Fe National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day weekend, to prepare it Monday’s remembrances.

The annual "flags in" ceremony serves as a time-honored tradition of loyalty and respect.

Come Monday, the cemetery will be filled with people honoring the heroes who lie in it.

One volunteer, veteran John Colwell, said there is “no higher sacrifice” than the one the soldiers buried at the cemetery made.

"We can never say thank you enough," said another volunteer.

As they worked, they paused along the way to honor the more than 58,000 servicemen and women buried at the cemetery.

Around 250 volunteers came out bright and early.

They placed miniature American flags at each and every headstone

“It’s very humbling to come out here and see all these gravestones and the people that have done extraordinary things for our country," said one of the people lending a hand.

The volunteers said they were making sure those who visit the grave of a loved one will know the nation remembers their sacrifice.

Colwell said the flag-planting ceremony, honoring his fallen brothers and sisters, warms his heart each year.

"It's just really moving,” he said. “It’s - there's not really anything you can say. They're honoring people they don't even know."

Many of the volunteers were school children learning about memorial day.

And many of the veterans on hand said it's important people remember the holiday's true meaning.

“Never forget that freedom isn’t free,” Colwell said.

Others just wanted to do their part to honor lost heroes.

"It's a very serene and sacred place," a volunteer said.

Copyright 2018 KRQE via CNN. All rights reserved.