Memorial Day 2021 will be celebrated Monday as a national holiday.
It’s a special time to reflect on the memories of those who have served their country in so many ways — whether through the military or in public service roles as law enforcement officers, firefighters, etc.
Many men and women are buried at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery near Milledgeville.
John Griffin, who serves as post commander of the American Legion Post No. 6 in Milledgeville, said without their personal sacrifices and dedication, America would not be the country it is, today.
Griffin and his wife, Carol, and many of their close friends — all members of the local American Legion Post, have for the last seven or eight years taken time out of their lives to place miniature American flags at the graves of hundreds of men and women buried at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The local volunteer group did the same thing this past Tuesday in preparation for Memorial Day.
“It really means a lot to me because I have friends and relatives buried out here,” Griffin said as he and others in his group walked from gravesite to gravesite putting up the red, white and blue flags to honor the fallen veterans. “This sort of gives me the opportunity to give back to them.”
Griffin said he really appreciated those who have supported and continue to support this special tribute to those brave men and women who have served our country so proudly in time of wars and other military conflicts.
“I say to each of them, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Griffin said. “They get up early every year to honor our fallen veterans by placing a flag on our service members headstones. It really says a lot about each of them and the love and respect they truly have for those who have given so much to our great nation.”
Griffin said he was proud to be a small part of it.
The group of volunteers placed the small flags on every one of the graves in Section D.
Unlike previous years, the local volunteers were accompanied by a special guest.
The special guest was Dwight Devereux Dinkins, now 37, who has enjoyed being around and saluting military men and women since he was a little boy.
Dwight was invited to participate in this year’s remembrance of fallen heroes at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery with members of the local American Legion Post to place flags in front of the graves of those buried there.
“This is a real honor and treat for him,” said his mother, Emily Dinkins, of Milledgeville.
Dwight, who donned an Army cap, represented several of his family members who have given to the country through many years in the military.
Dwight’s mother said her son has always loved anybody in the military.
“That’s why today is so very special for him,” said Emily Dinkins. “His favorite place is the Museum of Aviation. He can conduct tours. He really gets into it.”
His mother’s second cousin, Vickie Duncan, of Milledgeville, who also is Dwight’s caregiver, also came to the cemetery and participated in the special tribute to fallen veterans.
Dwight placed several flags on the graves of veterans, as did many other local volunteers.
One of them included Donald Stewart.
“This is a very important day for me,” said Stewart, who followed in the footsteps of his father and mother who both served in the Navy.
He was asked why he gives back to veterans in this special way.
Stewart responded without hesitation.
“Because these are my brothers and my sisters,” said Stewart, who lives in Milledgeville. “I think it’s very important that we honor these folks. They died for all of us. I really think it’s important.”
In addition to being a member of the local American Legion Post, Stewart also serves as chairman of the Volunteer Association at the Georgia War Veterans Home. There, he makes sure computers are functioning properly, and operates the store, too.
Stewart said those who are buried at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery was an honor each one of them earned.
“They didn’t want it, but they earned it, and we have to pay our respects to them for their service to our country,” Stewart said.
Other local volunteers who participated in the flag presentation on graves of veterans at the cemetery on Tuesday included Brian J. Carpenter, Bob Schenider Sr., Bob Schenider Jr., Joan Mayotte, Tara Lopez, Margie Robinson, Ronald Robinson,
Larry Calabro and Paul Bernichon.