Memorial Day 2017: Soldiers place 280,000 flags on headstones of fallen service members 

As part of a Memorial Day tradition, soldiers placed 280,000 flags on the headstones of fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery.

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The tradition, which soldiers call “Flags In,” has been held every year since the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as the “Old Guard,” was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit 70 years ago.

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 25: Sgt. Iwona Kosmaczewska assists with the process of placing flags at the headstones of U.S. military personnel buried at Arlington National Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day May 25, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. 'Flags-In' has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948Ê. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Specialist Kristen Pinnock participated in the tribute for the first time this year, telling WFLA, “I’m thinking about the families -- what they had gone through, what they still go through.”

Flags are seen at graves in Arlington National Cemetery during "Flags In" in preparation for Memorial Day May 25, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

“It really pulls at your heartstrings as it reminds you that we’ll always be there. We’ll always honor our guys,” Staff Sgt. Jason Kohne said.

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It takes nearly 1,000 soldiers to complete the ritual, and they also perform the same task at U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

“I would do this every single year I could until I retire, if I could,” Army Pvt. Wes DeFee said told The Washington Examiner. “It’s such an honor to help the families and support them with honor and respect.”

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