With Memorial Day comes the touching annual tradition of soldiers placing hundreds of thousands of American flags on tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
The annual event is called “flags in” and will see more than 230,000 American flags placed on the graves of fallen military personnel. Thursday’s flag-laying event kicks off a patriotic weekend of Memorial Day activities at the renowned cemetery.
Social media was filled with photos and videos showing just a few of what is ultimately thousands of soldiers placing nearly a quarter million flags near the final resting place of those who came before them:
— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 26, 2016
— Kristin Wright (@kwrightnbc4) May 26, 2016
— Tom Fitzgerald (@FitzFox5DC) May 26, 2016
— Jasper Colt (@jaspercolt) May 26, 2016
— The U.S. Army Band (@theusarmyband) May 26, 2016
“For more than 60 years, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has honored America’s fallen heroes by placing American flags at gravesites for service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery just prior to the Memorial Day weekend,” says the Arlington National Cemetery website.
“This tradition, known as “Flags in,” has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948.”
— The Old Guard (@USArmyOldGuard) May 26, 2016
— Mix 99.9 (@MixGulfCoast) May 26, 2016
— Odor Gladiator (@OdorGladiator) May 25, 2015
— Cellino and Barnes (@Cellino_Barnes) May 25, 2015
Soldiers also place about 14,000 flags at the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington. The “Flags in” ceremony is celebrated by civilians at military gravesites across the country.
— 9-1-1 Veterans Inc (@911_Veterans) May 16, 2016
— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) May 26, 2016
— anissssa (@lopezanissa814) May 25, 2015
— Michael Malloy (@mikemalloy7) May 25, 2015
The American flags fly during Memorial Day and are removed before the cemeteries open back up to the public.