NOT FORGOTTEN: Volunteers place flags on veterans’ graves

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By Sean Barron


Daniel D. Jones isn’t exactly a household name.

His headstone shows only his name and that he died in April 1926, though a little research reveals that Jones had served in the Army and fought in the Civil War.

Despite that scant knowledge, Carlos Jones was no less honored to assist with placing an American flag next to the late soldier’s gravesite.

“It’s been fun looking at history here,” said Jones, who is not a descendant of Daniel D. Jones.

He was one of several dozen volunteers who fanned out across Oak Hill Cemetery on Saturday morning to place Memorial Day flags next to tombstones that mark where an estimated 900 veterans of all military branches are buried throughout the vast, hilly South Side graveyard.

Leading the two-hour research project to honor those who served the nation were Stefan Wydell Jones, a local historian, and Bill Broadhead, who make up the Broadhead-Wydell Memorial Team.

The soldiers, about which little is known of some of them, were among those who fought in the Revolutionary, Civil, Spanish-American, Mexican, Korean and Vietnam wars as well as World Wars I and II.

Carlos Jones, who served in the Army Reserves, used sophisticated and updated information that included a map to guide fellow volunteer John Freeze toward Daniel Jones’ gravesite before Freeze inserted the flag. Both men said they wanted to do something to remember and honor veterans while giving back to the community.

“It’s a shame that more people aren’t involved” in remembering and honoring those who served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice, Freeze added.

Volunteers covered 13 sections of the cemetery, one of which contained about 30 veterans’ gravesites, while another had more than 100. They relied on maps and charts that were updated three or four years ago and, where possible, listed veterans’ full names, dates of birth and death, military branches and wars in which they had fought.

“As the years went on, we said we had to make it easy for the volunteers,” Stefan Jones said, adding the newer maps provide a faster, more efficient way to pinpoint where the soldiers are buried.

One of those who spearheaded the effort to simplify the process was Chip Proffit, who noted that the updated and more detailed mapping system removes much of the guesswork from finding specific veterans’ headstones.

“It turns a sunup-to-sunset process into a few hours to get it done,” he added.

Despite being privy to such information, Cassi Calderon was faced with the rather daunting challenge of tracking down the burial location of a veteran whose last name was Morgan and who was in WWI. His first name, middle initial, date of birth and the military branch he had served in were unknown.

“I think he might be over here,” said Calderon, who brought eight members of the local Venture Crew, a co-ed organization that is a division of the Boy Scouts of America and helps develop leadership and teamwork skills in boys and girls age 14 to 21 through outdoor adventures, activities and outings.

Among her group was Alex Mazon, who’s with Boy Scout Troop 46 of Boardman United Methodist Church, and whose mother, Sue Mazon, assisted with updating the mapping system.

Alex said a driving force behind his desire to volunteer with the flag project is patriotism, an important virtue stressed in Scouting. Another prime motivator is paying respects to those who fought for and defended the nation, he added.

“It’s important to just lend a hand and put the flags out,” Alex said. “I thought I’d offer a hand and help out, and I’m happy to be honoring those who served us.”

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