Clarksdale Remember!By JOSH TROY / PRESS REGISTER,
More than 1,000 individuals who went to war for their country and are buried at Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale were honored with flags on their graves for Memorial Day.
The flags were placed at the graves the Wednesday before Memorial Day on Monday. Wet flags were picked up immediately, while the other ones stayed at the graves until the day after Memorial Day.
The local American Legion chapter leads the effort annually, while individual volunteers also put some of the flags at the graves. Some of the volunteers came from Planter’s Bank and the Clarksdale Fire Department. Firefighters included investigator Trey Gammill, Capt. Martin Robinson, Lt. Tim Hudson and Jameel Wallace. Gammill’s son, Braylon, also helped.
AML and different members of the community purchased the flags.
“We’re glad to do it,” said AML past commander and adjutant Bob Howard. “It’s an honor to be able to do it.”
Howard served in the Air Force in Vietnam and appreciated the community coming together.
“These people that were volunteering, we really appreciate them,” Howard said.
Chris Overton, also an AML past commander and adjutant, served as an air vet in the Navy and Vietnam.
“It’s an honor to do this,” Overton said.
He also appreciated the volunteers.
“It means a lot, not only to us, but to them, too,” Overton said.
Both Howard and Overton said when the tradition started several years ago, flags were placed on approximately 500 graves.
The cemetery is divided into approximately 10 sections. Each volunteers places flags in a section.
“We have more every year in the section that we do,” Overton said.
Dividing the cemetery into sections made social distancing possible while honoring those who served at the same time.
“We are putting them in like we normally do,” Overton said. “There’s just three of us (in a section of the cemetery). We’re keeping our distance.”
“I can assure you this is going to happen,” he said. “What we’re doing, we’re going to do this. I don’t care what’s going on. We’re going to do.”
AML also places flags at the same graves every Veteran’s Day.