Volunteers ensure flags mark veterans’ graves at Springfield cemetery for Memorial Day

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

‘If we ever needed help, it was this year,’ military group commander says.

A group that has spent nearly a quarter of a century placing flags for Memorial Day on the graves of veterans interred at Rose Hill Burial Park reached a milestone this year — with the help of a bunch of volunteers.

Randall Ark, commander of Springfield’s Chapter 620, Military Order of the Purple Heart, said group members since about 2000 had taken it upon themselves to put the flags on veterans’ graves at Rose Hill the weekend before Memorial Day. However, they never managed to reach all of the graves of veterans there because they are spread out.

“Our Chapter 620 is dwindling with only seven members now attending meetings, and let’s face it, we’re getting up in years,” Ark said. “If we ever needed help, it was this year.”

He said past commander Doug Wood helped arrange for 21 volunteers — young adults and a few older adults — showed up and were able to put flags on every single veterans’ grave for the first time.

That meant 400-plus flags were set out, according to Ark.

Chapter 620 member Carl Bumgarner brought donuts, coffee, orange juice, napkins and milk for the volunteers.

Ark said in some past years the Purple Heart group had some outside help from a few adults or Boy Scouts, and that help was appreciated.

But he called the volunteers Saturday that helped cover all veterans in Rose Hill “patriotic young men and women who had sacrificed their time and energy on a Saturday to honor our veterans.”

“Whenever I start to lose heart in our younger generation, they step up and restore my faith,” Ark said.

“We members at Chapter 620 are forever grateful and admire your willingness to help set out flags at Rose Hill this year,” he said.