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Officer wants to see flags remain at grave sites longer

Submitted Photo From left are Kyle Ahlstrom, Lucinda Simpson, Janet Jagoda and Audrey Miga, members of Dunkirk Memorial Unit 62 Auxiliary, placing flags before Memorial Day this year.

Every year for Memorial Day, cemeteries and grave sites of veterans all over are decorated with flags as a way of honoring those lives lost.

But every year those flags are removed, seemingly pretty quickly, after they’re put up — mostly lasting a couple weeks before they are taken down. Installing Officer John Miga of the American Legion Post 62 in Dunkirk is wondering if those flags could stay up just a little bit longer.

“Every year, several veteran organizations and auxiliaries volunteer their time to decorate and place flags at the graves of all veterans in the area,” Miga said. “I’m not sure exactly which cemeteries or how many, but they always seem to take them off after a relatively short time, and I’m wondering if it’s possible to keep them there at least until July 4.”

While Miga is not sure of the exact logistics of why the flags are taken down, he feels that the hard work that these volunteers put into decorating the cemeteries should be recognized a little bit longer.

“They might have to be taken down for maintenance and things like that,” Miga said. “I don’t know who to call out to, but I was just thinking it would be respecting everyone who has volunteered to place these flags, as well as where they are being placed. It would be nice.”

Miga said he’s not exactly sure of who to talk to about it, as some of his contacts he may have had with cemetery caretakers may not be there any longer. The exact period of time Miga wants the flags left there is also something he has yet to really determine.

“I wouldn’t care if they left them there until labor day,” Miga said. “Some period of time longer would be nice. I haven’t checked them all but a few years ago, they only lasted two weeks.”

Miga said the flags for the cemeteries are purchased through the city, which are then distributed to the Legion and placed by those volunteers. He also said they get calls every year about missing certain graves, which is not always the fault of the volunteers placing the flags.

“A lot of families have moved on and left the area or aren’t able to maintain the growth around the flat stones,” Miga said. “A lot of times stones are missed because they aren’t always properly marked.”

“We get calls every year saying we missed someone,” Miga continued. “We have a lot of volunteers and a lot of senior volunteers. We have had a lot of youth groups do it in the past, but COVID restrictions made that not possible this year. It doesn’t take much time, but it does take time.”

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