Volunteers get emotional helping honor vets at the cemetery

BILOXI, MS (WLOX/AP) - Around 100 volunteers spent Tuesday morning at the Biloxi National Cemetery picking up the 20,000 flags placed at the graves for Memorial Day to honor the men and women who served our country.

"I came back," Mike Hemsley said with tears in his eyes. "Some friends and some of the troops who I had in my company in Vietnam did not come back."

For Hemsley it is more than just picking up flags.

"This is an honor for me to come out and salute them," Hemsley said.

Sadly as Hemsley recalled there was a time when Americans did not respect the sacrifices these veterans made.

"I was in a war that when we came home we were ignored if we were lucky," Hemsley said. "I'm so happy to see so many people come out and honor these people and their families."

Volunteers young and old grabbed the flags one by one and wrapped them in bundles of ten for next Memorial Day, while to most it seems like work, to those helping it was anything but.

Diana Nelson said, "It's an honor, a big honor to know these soldiers put their lives for our lives so we can do things like this."

Nelson was one of more than a thousand volunteers who came out Saturday to place the flags in front of the graves and she said it meant so much to her she came back to help pick them up.

"As I walked away I had tears going back to my car. The feelings, it will touch you like you ain't never been touched before," Nelson said.

It is that feeling that brings many volunteers back year after year.

John Luna said, "So many people make sacrifices and many don't realize how important it is to respect the veterans."

Hensley says it's something more people should do, "It's an honor and it's emotional and it's something you have to experience."

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