Community lays flags on the graves of Veterans to honor service

Nov. 13, 2014

John Villanueva | Staff Writer

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Flags are dressed along the tombstones in Riverside National Cemetery on Nov 8. to show respect to the deceased United States enlisted men and women.

A Flag for Every Hero is an event held over the past seven years where people come together as volunteers or a part of an organization to plant a flag for every fallen soldier on the Veterans and Memorial day weekend.

With supporters such as Trail Life USA and the American Red Cross, trail leader Wyant, helps bring the kids that are a part of Trail Life USA together to recognize what the American Armed forces have sacrificed for the freedom of America.

“My father,” Aaron Wyant said holding back tears, “my father who died this last year was a veteran. My brother is a veteran as well which is still in our grace and in our lives. But looking at what those men did for me, and making sure we have a safe place to vote so that we can speak our mind, so that we can protect our family, that means a lot as an American. We come out here to show these guys a little bit of respect for a lot of what they did.”

Mike Wyant, Troopmaster in Trail Life USA, served for 5 years as a captain in the army and is brother of Aaron Wyant.

“Trail Life is a brief adventure program that is Christ centered and is built on character, adventure and leadership,” Mike Wyant said.

Mike Wyant described the event as “a crucial event for our community” and says that it is meant for people “to come together as it has done for years, and to honor our men and women of the armed forces.”

Steve Pennington is committee chairman of Troop 703 Trail Life USA and describes the event as a day to honor the fallen.

“This is an important way to teach our sons to understand there are many that scarified for our country,” Pennington said. “We come to honor that sacrifice, so they know who they are and why.”

The Trail life USA organization has been lending their support for the past four years through word of mouth to neighboring communities.

Enlisted Navy Chief Mineman Michael Pittenger, helped donate some of his time to help his mother volunteering for the American Red Cross and for the event.

“If you take it into consideration (that) even if all these people weren’t career in the military, if you add up each one of their terms of service and just think about how much this group has done for our nation, it’s overwhelming,” said Pittenger. “For us to come out here to pay a little respect, take a few hours out of our day and put out flags, it’s almost insignificant compared to what they did.”

Pittenger does something different each year for the Memorial and Veterans day holidays to support the fallen armed forces.

Not only do the local Riverside community and surrounding communities contribute during A Flag for Every Hero, but big organizations also lend a hand,.

The American Red Cross is another organization that donates their time and resources to plant flags on every tombstone over the past several years and has given a lot to help the community on this event.

Dave Curran, Leader of the Riverside chapter of the Service to Armed Forces, said that what they’re doing here is meaningless to what these men and women gave.

“It’s our way of spending veterans day In the moment,” Curran said. “The reason I joined SAF of the Red Cross (is that) my son had joined the air force a year ago, so it’s a way to stay connected to him. It’s a way of showing tribute to those who had gone before him. It’s really just a drop in a bucket.”

Denise Pittenger, mother of Michael Pittenger and volunteer of the American Red Cross, agrees with Curran.

“Every flag we put in is heartfelt and seeing the kids participate is really touching.”

The Riverside National Cemetery will continue to hold these gathering each year for the Veterans and Memorial Day weekend.