Breckenridge Texan

Volunteers help place flags on veterans’ graves; Memorial Day ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. today

Volunteers help place flags on veterans’ graves; Memorial Day ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. today
May 25
08:43 2020

More than 30 people from Breckenridge and beyond showed up at the Breckenridge Cemetery on Saturday to help place American flags on the graves of the approximately 900 veterans who are buried there. Today, May 25, Memorial Day activities will continue with the annual ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in front of the Stephens County Courthouse scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Roy and Mitzi Miller from Breckenridge work together Saturday morning to place American flags in the cemetery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

At the ceremony on the courthouse lawn, 200 W. Walker St. in Breckenridge, members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7767 and Auxiliary, along with Stephens County residents, will pay their respects to those Stephens County veterans who have died in the past year. If it is raining at 10 a.m., the ceremony may be postponed for a few minutes or possibly moved inside the courthouse. Click here to read more about the Memorial Day ceremony.

On Saturday, Jim Merson of Breckenridge said he has been putting out the flags for Memorial Day, with the help of various local groups, for about 8 or 9 years. For the past several years he has worked with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, but with this year’s COVID-19 threat, he decided to take a different approach and ask for volunteers to come out and help.

In addition to volunteers from Breckenridge and Stephens County, those assisting with the flags came from North Richland Hills, Fort Worth and Winters. As they arrived, the volunteers picked up armfuls of flags from Merson and walked through the cemetery, looking for the marked graves of U.S. military veterans. At each veteran’s grave, a flag was placed.

Travis Powell and his kids Andrew, 12, and Autumn, 9, all from Fort Worth, saw the story online and came to Breckenridge to help Jim Merson put flags on the graves of 900 veterans buried in the local cemetery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Merson, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, said he orders a gross of flags every two to three years from a Texas company to replace those that are looking a little worn.

On Tuesday, May 26, Merson will be back at the cemetery at 8:30 a.m. to pick up the flags. He also will welcome any help with that task.

In addition to the flags at the cemetery and the ceremony at the monument, Memorial Day is also observed in Breckenridge with flags posted around town by the Rotary Club of Breckenridge.

Memorial Day, which honors those who died in military service to the United States, was first observed as a national event on May 30, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. It was originally known as Decoration Day because the graves were decorated with flowers. By the late 1800s, the holiday was known as Memorial Day, but it was still commonly called Decoration Day until World War II. The name was officially changed to Memorial Day in 1967.

To see more photos from Saturday morning’s activity, click here for the Breckenridge Texan Photo Gallery.

Jim Merson talks with Les and Sherry Strickland as they prepare to help place flags on the graves of veterans in the Breckenridge Cemetery. The Stricklands came to help after putting out flags along Walker Street with the Rotary Club on Saturday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Lee and Trish Pitts from North Richland Hills saw the story on Facebook about Jim Merson needing help placing the flags on the graves of local veterans, and they volunteered their assistance. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

Veteran Arthur Estrada from Winters helps place flags in the Breckenridge Cemetery on Saturday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Santiago Gerardo searches for the marked graves of U.S. veterans on Saturday morning as he helps places flags in the Breckenridge Cemetery for Memorial Day. For more photos from Saturday morning, click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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