The graves of about 1,500 veterans received individual salutes Thursday afternoon, just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
Volunteers placed small flags — most of them red, white and blue — at grave markers in Vancouver’s historic Post Cemetery.
Members of Vancouver’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7824 organized the project, with help from other community volunteers.
It’s become an annual scene-setter heading into the weekend slate of commemorative observances, including planned ceremonies in Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, La Center and Ridgefield.
“All the graves get a flag,” said Richard Alvarez, an Army veteran and VFW member. And some markers get more than one.
Several soldiers who won the Medal of Honor are buried at the cemetery, just off Interstate 5 and south of East Fourth Plain Boulevard. Their graves are distinguished by a pale blue Medal of Honor flag with 13 white stars.
Not all flag recipients fought for our country, Alvarez noted. Some family members of soldiers were buried in the post cemetery near their fathers or husbands. The names of those family members often were inscribed on the reverse side of the soldiers’ grave markers.
At those family plots, the volunteers put flags at the front and the back of the markers, Alvarez said.
And, a handful of the flag recipients actually fought against us, Alvarez said. During World War II, German and Italian prisoners of war were transported to Vancouver. Some of the POWs died here and were buried here.
Their graves are marked by green, white and red Italian flags, and the black, red and gold flags of unified Germany.
The county’s Memorial Day observances include:
• Fern Prairie, 11 a.m., Fern Prairie Cemetery, 25700 N.E. Robinson Road, Camas.
• Salmon Creek, 7:15 a.m., Salmon Creek American Legion Post, 14011 N.E. 20th Ave.
• Camas, 9 a.m., Camas Cemetery, 630 N.E. Oak St .
• Ridgefield, 9 a.m., Ridgefield Cemetery, Cemetery Road.
• Vancouver, 11 a.m., Clark County War Memorial, Vancouver Barracks, Fort Vancouver Way and McClellan Road.
• Washougal, 11 a.m., Washougal Memorial Cemetery, 3329 Q St.
• La Center, 11 a.m., La Center Cemetery, Highland Road.