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Cadets place American flags by veteran markers

In honor & remembrance Cadets place American flags by veteran markers Alexander Cain The Union-Recorder Fourteen Georgia Military College Prep School cadets spent more than an hour Monday afternoon placing American flags by the grave markers of the 1,093 veterans buried at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery. For two of them, however — 12-year-old Buddy Sloan and 11-year-old Roy Wood — the flag placements had a personal meaning. Sloan’s uncle is buried at the cemetery, as is Wood’s father. When asked how it felt to place a flag by his father’s marker, Wood had to take a moment to find the words to describe his emotions. “It felt good. I look up to him. He’s my idol,” Wood said. “He was about to get promoted, but they didn’t have space available.” Georgia Military College works closely with the Georgia War Veterans Home and the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery, according to Maj. Larry Martin with GMC. Both sites are accessible from Carl Vinson Highway and both receive additional attention when days such as Veterans Day near, Martin said. “We do this about every year, but we also do more than just place flags. We also come out and do things like help plant trees. We helped plant trees just over there,” Martin said pointing to a nearby site in view of the headstones marking the final resting place of many local veterans. One person who knows the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery well is World War II widow Sheila Vincent, who traveled with her mother, Frances G. Pagett from Gordon, to visit the site Monday. Vincent’s husband, Joseph P. Vincent, was a private in the Army during World War II and passed away Jan. 25, 2005. Vincent and her mother arrived at the cemetery as the 14 cadets were finishing up with the final placement of flags, which are expected to remain next to their respective headstones throughout the week. “Veterans Day means a lot to me, and it meant a lot to my husband,” Vincent said. “I would take him to the Georgia War Veterans Home every year and we’d stay for the ceremony and the lunch afterwards.” The trip was made more personal from the fact that she worked for many years at the War Veterans Home as a Certified Nursing Assistant, getting to know many of those living at the site on a first-name basis, Vincent said. “I think this is wonderful,” Vincent said as she looked over the field of flags and the red shirts in the distance of the GMC cadets. “I knew someone was doing this, but I didn’t know it was them. I think that they learned a lot today. I think it takes a person to be patriotic.” Russell Feagin, assistant director of the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery, assisted with overseeing the placement of flags Monday. “I think it’s great. GMC Prep School has always supported the cemetery,” Feagin said as he watched GMC Prep students such as 13-year-old Tori Spivey and 13-year-old Sarah Poole place flags around the property. The American flag that normally stands visible outside the chapel of the cemetery was at half-staff on Monday — a visible sign that Veterans Day in Milledgeville means more than just another day on the calendar, according to Ernie Simons, cemetery director. “I think this shows a great sign of patriotism for these kids to come out and do this. We do this on Veterans Day and Memorial Day,” Simons said. “GMC has always given us great support.” For Maj. Larry Martin, also a veteran, Monday’s visit to the cemetery grounds meant an opportunity for the cadets to remember those who have fought for freedom before then, while also keeping in mind those who are currently engaged in military service both home and oversees. “This is community service. We teach our kids to be civic minded and give back to the community. It’s just the right thing to do,” Martin said. A Veterans Day ceremony will take place at the Georgia War Veterans Home off Carl Vinson Highway today at 11 a.m. The Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery will mark its next ceremony Dec. 13, when six wreaths representing branches of service and one representing prisoners of war (POWs) will be placed at the cemetery in the annual wreath-laying ceremony. The public is invited to visit the ceremony at the Georgia War Veterans Home today and at the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in December.