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Junior ROTC members make quick work of flag planting

Jeffrey Wood, left, Anna Baird and Kaylee Christie, JROTC students at Butler Senior High School, place flags on gravestones at Butler County Memorial Park Thursday, May 23. Submitted Photo
More than 2,000 flags placed in an afternoon

Planting American flags on the graves of more than 2,000 veterans buried at Butler County Memorial Park & Mausoleum normally takes two eight-hour days, but with the help of 22 Junior ROTC students, it took less than six hours this year.

Paul Simms, manager of the memorial park since the 1980s, said it was the fastest the job has ever been completed.

“I don't ever remember being done this quick,” Simms said. “Every single spot in the parking lot was full. It was a great mix; there was a lot of women here as well as guys doing it.”

According to Simms, state law requires memorial parks to place American flags on the gravestones of veterans for at least 30 days, coinciding with Memorial Day. He said he normally plants them with a few other volunteers the Thursday and Friday preceding Memorial Day.

Major Richard Coleman, senior Army instructor for Butler Senior High School’s JROTC program, said this was the first year in several years that students helped with the flag planting at the memorial park. He said the number of people who volunteered Thursday — 22 students ranging in grade level from freshman to senior — helped make the work go quickly.

“We were ready and willing; our kids are always ready to help the community,” Coleman said. “I think we were able to get at least 10 more kids than we (expected). That helped out.”

JROTC cadets split into three groups when they arrived at the memorial park Thursday morning, and each covered a different section of graves. According to Coleman, the students worked together under an upperclassman leader in each group to get the work done efficiently.

Coleman said members of the JROTC program regularly take on service projects and volunteer opportunities, which help teach them lessons valuable in daily life. He said having them volunteer at a memorial park for Memorial Day was a good chance for them to work on several interpersonal skills.

“Leadership, communication and being able to follow those people in leadership,” Coleman said. “JROTC mission is to motivate students to be better citizens. What better way than being involved in the community they live in?”

Members of Butler Senior High School's JROTC helped place more than 2,000 American flags on gravestones Thursday, May 23, at Butler County Memorial Park & Mausoleum. Submitted Photo

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