MILWAUKEE - Every day is Memorial Day for loved ones left behind. This weekend, the country remembers the fallen, those who died serving the United States.
A Wood National Cemetery Memorial Day tradition was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic, but after a year off, it is now back.
"I’m just trying to honor the veterans you know, it’s a tradition," said home-schooled seventh grader Ellie Taylor.
Taylor is one of 300 volunteers with a solemn mission and simple act of remembrance: one flag at each of the 36,000 gravestones at the Milwaukee military cemetery.
"I just think it’s really cool that they gave their time and effort to set our county free," said another home school student, third grader Carter Peck.
Temperatures in the low forties with wind and mist couldn't stop the kids from remembering.
Students place Memorial Day flags at Wood National Cemetery
"World War II. You read books and stories about them, but to see a gravestone of where a body is, someone who fought for your country," Taylor said. "It’s really about honoring what they did for our country."
It goes back even further; some of the veterans buried at Wood National Cemetery served in the Civil War.
"We’re an old cemetery, not every section gets a visitor every day. So when we have these groups go in and they’re taking that time and remembering and thinking, ‘Hey that person was 50 years old when they passed; that person was 18 years old when they passed,’ wondering what that person was doing and what they were willing to do for their country," said Aaron Dishaw, Wood National Cemetery foreman and 18-year Army veteran.
Flags at Wood National Cemetery for Memorial Day 2021
Memorial Day is a once-a-year chance to honor those killed in action. But for Dishaw, it is his daily job.
"It’s just our continued commitment. You don’t leave a battle buddy behind. So our continued commitment here at the National Cemetery is no veteran ever dies," said Dishaw. "When we have veterans taking care of veterans and non-veterans taking care of veterans, their memories will continue living on."
Some 300 people are helping with planting the American flags ahead of Memorial Day, including Scouts, homeschool students, veterans, and various businesses.
For the second year in a row, Wood National Cemetery will not offer a public Memorial Day service due to the pandemic. However, people are welcome to visit the graves – open every day of the year from dawn to dusk.