BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The sun was hot and beaming down, but its heat didn’t match the intense passion shown by so many of volunteers who came to place flags in front of the headstones at the Biloxi National Cemetery.
“We have over a thousand volunteers come out here this morning,” said James Corley, the Biloxi National Cemetery’s Memorial Day chairperson.
The event started at 8 a.m., and there was a lot of space to cover at the cemetery, but with so many people pitching in, including active duty service members, retired veterans and civilians, the work was done in less than an hour.
“With that, you can see that within 30 to 40 minutes we have put out 23,000 flags. Over 23,000 flags," Corley said.
The volunteers said that Memorial Day isn’t about a three-day weekend or shopping sales. It’s about respecting the people whose names are etched in the headstones.
“Without us coming out here, who would be paying the tribute?” Vera Berry asked.
Berry comes to the cemetery twice a year to lay flags at Memorial Day and wreaths at Christmas. An Air Force veteran herself, she has family buried on the grounds.
“I have pops buried out here; I have extended family buried out here,” Berry said.
Berry said she’s as patriotic as they come, maybe even a little more than normal, which is why she makes sure she is here each year to say thank you and spread some holiday cheer.
“These people gave their life for us. They deserve this. They deserve this and more,” Berry added.
“It’s something that warms people’s hearts, and it’s something that Americans should do,” Corley said.
The flags will be up until the day after Tuesday, May 28.