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Saturday Mission Offers Recognition For Veterans
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Young Boy Scout Brayden Silva, 12, of Troop 365 in Oakdale was one of many volunteers that turned out early Saturday morning, May 27 to help place flags on the graves of veterans buried at the Oakdale Citizen Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Dozens of volunteers fanned out all across the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery on Saturday morning, May 27.

They were on a mission – to make sure that each veteran buried in the East J Street cemetery had an American flag placed on their grave for the Memorial Day observance on Monday.

Many of those turning out to assist were local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, including Boy Scout Troops 365 and 43 and Cub Scout Pack 365, all of Oakdale.

Several members of the Oakdale Lions Club were also on hand along with some community volunteers.

Coordinating the effort was Melinda Owen, who had clipboards ready with information on gravesites for veterans, the cemetery divided into small areas to make it easier to send groups of volunteers to each location to find the graves.

Several hundred had to be placed.

“Once you figure out the procedure, then it flows,” said volunteer Sylvia Nimphius, who was working with her husband Richard, a Lions Club member, on finding the graves.

“There are a lot more veterans here than I thought there was,” admitted Richard.

He said the effort was announced at a recent Lions Club meeting and, since he and his wife were home, they joined in with friend and fellow Lion Bradley Bates to help out.

President George Retana and Vice President John Hinkel of Veterans In Action, Inc. were there to help out, part of their community service as a veteran’s organization.

Owen, meanwhile, was buoyed by the volunteer support.

“We have to put out almost 800 flags,” she said. “It’ll take several hours.”

She also said many of the volunteers were new, so it may have taken them a little longer to get the idea but, once they do it, the second time around is easier.

Some of the scouts, in fact, had participated in the Wreaths Across America program this past December, placing wreaths on veterans’ graves.

Among them was Landon Wiggins, 10, of Troop 365, who was happy to help get the cemetery ready for Memorial Day.

“I think of the soldiers who served in the Army,” he said, adding that “it feels really good” to be a part of recognizing them.

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Helping coordinate the placement of flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day, Oakdale Citizens Cemetery representative Melinda Owen, left, checks the clipboard prior to preparing another bundle of flags for volunteers. Marg Jackson/The Leader