KALISPELL – On Memorial Day we honor the men and woman who died while serving in the U.S. military.
In Flathead County, high school wrestling teams have a tradition ahead of the holiday to decorate veterans graves with flags.
The Stars and Stripes are flying high at Conrad Cemetery in Kalispell, final resting place to around 1,000 of our nation’s veterans. The soldiers laid to rest here have served in every American conflict, including the Civil War.
The touching display of patriotism is thanks to local Flathead and Glacier High School wrestling teams and members of the local VFW Post.
“It’s really important that you celebrate these guys because without these guys we wouldn’t have the freedom that we have today,” said Glacier High School Junior Caden Willis.
“I’m seeing friends graduate now and go into the Army and seeing the impact that they’re going to have and that previous generations have had it’s a really big deal,” said Flathead High School Senior Tucker Nadeau.
Vietnam Veteran and Post Commander Jerry Stewart says the flags are furnished by the Post with the help of local individuals and area businesses.
“People donate them and we buy some ourselves, but there are companies here in the valley that donate two-or-three-hundred at a time every year,” said VFW Post 2252 Post commander Jerry Stewart.
For Nadeau, who has been a participant since his freshman year, he says it has left a legacy with him: a mission of the Post to teach youth the responsibility of respecting the flag.
“I think its really important to keep this going on for the next batch of kids, now that my class is graduating and imparting onto them the importance of honoring our veterans and our country,” said Nadeau.
The wrestling teams also hang flags along Main Street on Veterans Day.
Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News