Breckenridge Texan

Volunteers decorate veterans’ graves for Memorial Day; annual ceremony scheduled for Monday morning at courthouse

Volunteers decorate veterans’ graves for Memorial Day; annual ceremony scheduled for Monday morning at courthouse
May 29
09:48 2022

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

After a crowd of about 30-40 people showed up at the Breckenridge Cemetery early Saturday morning, every U.S. Military veteran’s grave in the cemetery is marked with an American flag for Memorial Day.

When U.S. Navy veteran Jim Merson put out a request for help with the project earlier this month, the response was almost overwhelming. Boy Scouts, fellow veterans and other citizens of all ages answered the call and arrived en masse bright and early on the first day of a three-day holiday weekend.

About 30 to 50 people showed up at the Breckenridge Cemetery on Saturday morning to help put flags on the graves of U.S. veterans. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“I think this is the most we’ve ever had,” Merson said as he helped direct the volunteers to sections of the cemetery that still needed to flags.

Throughout the project every year, the various flag-placers each have their own style. Those who have done it before know where and how to look for indicators that a grave is that of a veteran. Some work in energetic, boisterous groups, while others walk through the cemetery in quiet solitude. There are those who quickly place flags on the appropriate graves and move on to the next, and others who linger to read the names and notations, pondering the lives of the veterans.

No matter their style, all of the volunteers are there with the singular purpose of honoring those who served to protect the United States and its citizens.

As often is the case in Breckenridge at this time of year, on Saturday the ground at the cemetery was dry and hard and unyielding. Many of the volunteers placing flags in the cemetery, carried tools to make the job easier. Merson supplied steel “hole punchers” fashioned from rebar that — with a little effort — can make a place for the wooden flag sticks to go. The more experienced of the volunteers brought their own power tools to actually drill holes into the rock-hard soil.

In less than 90 minutes Saturday morning, the flags were all placed, and those who had assembled for the project honoring the county’s deceased veterans were making their way back to their vehicles and heading home, leaving behind a cemetery full of American flags waving in the breeze.

Click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery from Saturday’s project.

Jim Merson, left, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been placing flags on the graves of veterans in the Breckenridge Cemetery for more than 10 years. Volunteers show up each year to help with the project. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



The annual Memorial Day service will begin at 10 a.m. Monday morning, May 30, at the Veterans Memorial in front of the Stephens County Courthouse.

The service will include the reading of the names of the local veterans who have died in the past year. Their names have been added to the memorial.

Additionally, the VFW Auxiliary will be selling food and drinks after the service. Funds raised by the sales will be used to pay for the engraving on the memorial.

Linda and Arthur Estrada come to the Breckenridge Cemetery every year to help honor the veterans buried there. Arthur is a Vietnam War Veteran. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Scout leader Matt Wunsch places a flag on a veteran’s grave in the Breckenridge Cemetery on Saturday morning, May 28. Wunsch was joined by several Scouts, who volunteered to help with the annual Memorial Day project. Click here to see a Photo Gallery from Saturday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan) 


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