Every Flag Tells a Story At Mobile’s Historic Magnolia & National Cemeteries

Photo Credit: blog.al.com

Photo Credit: blog.al.com

The one thing I enjoy is looking for inspiring and heartwarming stories of all kinds of occasions, experiences and places around the world. Recently, I came across the following article, which, to me, was an interesting and heartwarming story of a national cemetery in Alabama. Since the story and the happenings in the cemetery take place only twice a year (Memorial Day and Veterans Day), I thought that it would be something nice to share with you as we celebrate Memorial Day!

The Avenue of Heroes at Magnolia Cemetery is one again festooned with American flags, thanks to family members who have donated service members’ casket flags. Flown twice a year, at Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the flags line the cemetery’s entrances at Ann Street and at Virginia Street.

The cemetery started the program with the first display of flags in 2007.

The Veterans Administration honors deceased veterans with a large, 6-foot-by-8-foot flag to drape over his or her casket at the funeral. Traditionally, the flag is folded and handed to the surviving spouse after the service. “Most people get one and think, ‘What do I do with this?'” said Tom McGehee, president of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery. “Then they sit on a shelf or in a closet.”

After a flag is donated to the cemetery, it’s hung from a pole with an engraved plaque attached that includes the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service and war, if applicable, said Janet Savage, executive director of Magnolia Cemetery.

It takes two days for Mark Halseth, cemetery superintendent, to put up all the flags. As of today, 65 flags are flying at the cemetery. “The Internet is amazing,” said Savage, noting that 24 of the flags are from out of state from families who learned about the program online.

Savage’s own uncle’s flag is among those flying at Magnolia. “He was missing in action in World War II, and his flag had been in the closet for 60 years,” she said. “There are a lot of stories out there.”

“It really is a pretty sight on a breezy day,” said McGehee.

When the flags are taken down, they’re stored at the cemetery office until the next holiday. The Friends group even bought a dryer to completely dry the flags before they go into storage.

For more information about the Avenue of Heroes program, contact Janet Savage at (251) 432-8672.

Meanwhile, each of the 3,867 graves at the adjacent Mobile National Cemetery received a miniature American flag, stuck 12 inches from the front of the headstone, on Friday, as they do every Memorial Day.

Usually, a group volunteers to put out the flags and pick them back up, but this year no one stepped up, said Larry Robinson, program support assistant at Barrancas National Cemetery at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“We have a contract to put out the flags in case we don’t have volunteers,” Robinson said.

In Pensacola, Boy Scouts are volunteering to adorn the markers of some 30,000 graves, he said.

Established in 1865, Mobile National Cemetery holds the remains of veterans of eight wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs brochure.

National Cemetery is a closed cemetery, meaning no more interments can take place there.

Dressing A Soldier For The Last Time

 

Photo Credit: Sheep Dog - Impact Assistance's

Photo Credit: Sheep Dog – Impact Assistance’s

This is a picture the military has never let anyone see until now.

This is a picture behind the scenes at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for burial.

And that includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.
In this picture Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for an army pilot recently killed in Afghanistan.

There is a very specific process once a fallen soldier is returned home.

The bodies are flown back to the U.S. on a cargo jet.

A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The remains are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair is shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.

Sometimes they will use photos, sometimes just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in faces, and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes.

“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.”

Once the body is ready then the uniform is prepared.

That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 bodies were arriving every day.

The embalmers often worked all night to get the bodies home on time. That can take an emotional toll so the mortuary has a large gym so workers can blow off steam.

Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are, and by how many of them leave behind small children.

That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers.

“If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”
The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket.

Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “They’re (the family) not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”

NEVER FORGET OUR FALLEN HEROES!!

How Will You Be Remembered?

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

I have often wondered what other people would remember or think of me when my time on earth has come to an end. What would be my legacy? How would I be remembered? I found the following story fascinating because it shows us that sometimes, if we are given a “second chance”, we can turn our lives around for the good.

About a hundred years ago, a man looked at the morning newspaper and to his surprise and horror, read his name in the obituary column. The newspapers had reported the death of the wrong person by mistake. His first response was shock. Am I here or there? When he regained his composure, his second thought was to find out what people had said about him. The obituary read, “Dynamite King Dies.” And also “He was the merchant of death.” This man was the inventor of dynamite and when he read the words “merchant of death,” he asked himself a question, “Is this how I am going to be remembered?” He got in touch with his feelings and decided that this was not the way he wanted to be remembered. From that day on, he started working toward peace. His name was Alfred Nobel and he is remembered today by the great Nobel Prize.

Just as Alfred Nobel got in touch with his feelings and redefined his values, we should step back and do the same.

What is your legacy?

How would you like to be remembered?

Will you be spoken well of?

Will you be remembered with love and respect?

Will you be missed?

It makes you think…..

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Source:  great-motivational-stories.blogspot.com