Memorial Day: Tearful volunteers honor fallen soldiers with flags

With tears in her eyes but pride in her face, Abby Beck stood at Pacific View Memorial Park and Mortuary in Newport Beach on Saturday.

“It’s an honor being here,” said Beck, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. “You just really realize how important this is, and how great the luxuries and freedoms that we have are. Being a veteran made me realize how important those things are and how lucky we are to have them.”

Newport Beach resident Beck and her son Levi, 7, helped place more than 250 American flags on the grave sites of fallen soldiers, as part of Costa Cub Scouts Pack 108’s Memorial Day commemoration.


The scene was repeated at military cemeteries around the nation, as people came out with flags to honor fallen soldiers.

“This is a huge respect and very important to me,” Beck said. “I’m glad Levi is doing this, and this is just an emotional thing knowing these people gave themselves to our country.”

Beck said that Levi may be too young to fully understand the importance of Memorial Day, but she’s proud of him for putting flags on the graves.

“I’m trying to teach him the importance of what we’re doing here today, and what it really means to be a veteran and to give your life for your country. We’re lucky because of these people.”

Tiger Cub den leader Quynh-Thi Vidal said it’s important to teach the scouts to honor the veterans so they can learn the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Vidal’s son, Caleb, 6, said, “This makes me really happy because I like our Army. I want to do this again. It’s really cool when we put out flags for our soldiers, because it makes me think about them more. People always need an Army to fight for our country.”

Costa Mesa Bear Den Pack 108 leader Catherine Del Valle said the event is a “great starting point” to teach the kids about America’s armed forces.

“It’s great to have them learn what our soldiers have done for us,” she said. “We really need to show respect and teach our children the respect that these people have earned.”

Costa Mesa Cub Scouts Pack 108 will take part in a Memorial Day ceremony at 10:45 a.m. Monday at Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park and Mortuary. Vidal said the event will include a memorial service for fallen soldiers, and the scouts will be dressed in their best uniforms.

Volunteers also placed thousands of flags on graves Saturday at Riverside National Cemetery.

After residents found out the cemetery did not have money to buy flags for its 225,000 graves, several different groups stepped in to help.

Among those making a difference was U.S. Air Force veteran and Anaheim police officer Brennan Leininger, who helped organize a massive flag-placing effort.

“Seeing all the graves empty, just touched me, and pushed me to do something about it,” Leininger told KTLA Channel 5.

Leininger led an effort to collect 55,000 flags. Other groups, including the Boy Scouts, collected an additional 40,000 flags.

Hundreds of volunteers spread out across Riverside National, the country’s third largest military cemetery, to put up a total of about 100,000 flags in time for Memorial Day.


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