Volunteers place 1,477 flags at graves of veteran’s Saturday at Mountain View Cemetery

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton’s Mountain View Cemetery was a beehive of activity on Saturday morning as about 60 volunteers showed up to place American Flags at the graves of veterans. A total of 1,477 flags were used today, an increase from 1,402 last year. “In 19 years, these are the most volunteers we’ve ever had,” said Bob Belding, who coordinates the annual flag distribution for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Riverton. “This is just great to see such a good turnout.”

Among the volunteers were 10 members of Riverton Troop 44 of the Boy Scouts. Troop Leader Bob Connelly said the boys would be back on Monday for the Memorial Day ceremony as well.

First time volunteers Saturday morning included Donna Michel of Riverton, Shirley Laker of Blackfoot, Idaho, and Dean Michel of Rawlins, an Eagle Scout who has both of his grandfathers buried here. They are both veterans. “It is appropriate to help,” Dean said. Added Donna, “This is our first time here, we we thought it would be a nice thing to do and get a tradition started for Dean,” she said. Donna’s husband is also buried here, and he was a veteran.  Shirley and Donna are sisters, and even though Shriley now lives in Idaho, “I’m still a Wyoming gal,” she said.

Gabrial Holcomb was helping plant the flags in the northwest corner of the cemetery with Mandi Belding and Marlin Bessey. “I’m with the VFW Auxiliary and this is my mother’s section,” Belding said. “Myself, my  father and grandfather are all veterans. It’s the right thing do.”

Just a few sections away, Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness and his wife Helen were putting out flags. Warpness had found a grave marker that had been totally overgrown by the grass and was cleaning it off so it could be seen.

In the southwest corner of the cemetery, Sophia Holcomb, 7, and Chloe Cross, 4 were helping Sasha Angermeier and Ginny Holcomb with placing flags. The four had a wagon filled with flags and a map of the sections on that portion of the cemetery identifying veteran’s graves. “I’ve been out here every year since 1991,” said Jenny. “It’s a tradition and we always do the same section. It’s very rewarding.

Members of the American Legion Auxiliary were also placing Legion flags on the graves of both Legionnaires and Auxiliary members, and representatives from several fraternal organizations were marking the graves of their departed members.

While the volunteers were busy planting flags, dozens of other folks were at the cemetery cleaning headstones, replacing artificial flowers on graves, or putting up fresh sprays of flowers in preparation for Monday’s Memorial Day observance. The official Veteran’s observance is set for 10 a.m. Monday at the VFW monument in one of the veteran’s section of the cemetery. The local veterans organizations will be on hand and Warpness will be the guest speaker. The Memorial Day observance at Mountain View Cemetery is the only official observance in Riverton on Monday, with the exception of the Avenue of Flags that will displayed throughout Main and Federal Boulevards on the holiday.

For a list of this weekend’s Memorial Day observances, click here.