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A local American Legion post and Young Marines chapter held a sunrise flag-raising ceremony in the veterans section of Edgemont Cemetery early Monday morning in Anniston.

Each grave in the veterans’ section of Edgemont Cemetery was decorated early Monday morning with a small American flag. Above the headstones, a full-size flag flew at half-staff.

Members of East Central Alabama Young Marines and American Legion Post 26 began placing the small flags at around 5:30 a.m. The full-size flag was raised half an hour later.

According to Rue Chatfield, who leads both groups, the post has held a flag-raising ceremony for nearly 50 years at the cemetery.

“It’s to honor the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice, the ones that paved the way for all of us who serve,” Chatfield said. “Hopefully the next generation will do it for our generations. It’s an honor to do it.”

Former post commander Jeff Lumpkin said the smaller flags on the graves were a reminder that those fallen soldiers were not forgotten.

“A lot are from World War I and World War II, and their family members probably aren’t here no more,” Lumpkin said.

In an unmarked grave, Lumpkin said he believed, one of the post’s longest-serving members was buried.

According to Chatfield, the flag was left at half staff in honor of Memorial Day. Chatfield said the flag was placed at half staff the proper way: raised to the top of the flagpole for a few seconds, then lowered.

Chatfield said he planned for a post member to return at noon to raise the flag to full staff of the flagpole and again at sunset to lower it and remove all the smaller flags.

Chatfield said this is the first year that the Young Marines have participated.

“I mentioned it to them to volunteer and actually got a decent turnout,” Chatfield said. “We’re trying to instill in them what was instilled in us.”

Young Marines member Brian Hopper said he wanted to help out in order to show his gratitude for the fallen soldiers and veterans buried there.

“I think that they’re normal people like us, but they made the ultimate sacrifice,” Hopper said. For that, they should be truly remembered with the highest respect.”

Hopper, a high school freshman from a military family, said he feels that other kids don’t appreciate the importance of Memorial Day.

“Most kids my age don’t really have the discipline or the mental stability to understand something like this or actually think about it because they don’t come from a military family like I have,” Hopper said.

Hopefully, Chatfield said, more members of the public will participate at ceremonies in the future. He said the next flag raising ceremony is set for Veterans Day in November.

“Anybody can put a flag down to honor somebody,” Chatfield said.

Contact Staff Writer Amalia Kortright at 256-235-3563.