Brayson Salazar-Strong was one of the Fir Grove Elementary Students who helped place flags at the Roseburg National Cemetery in advance of Memorial Day.
When asked if the holiday meant something to him, Brayson said, “My uncle is somewhere here.”
Brayson, a third grader, doesn’t remember much about his uncle, except from the stories he’s told by his parents. He said he was very young when his uncle died, but it felt good to honor and remember him.
Students in third, fourth and fifth grade at the school walked over to the two cemeteries that are part of the Roseburg VA to place flags.
Third grader Cooper Myers said, “We’re putting the flags next to the graves so we can show that we support them.” Brayson added that it’s also to honor the fallen soldiers.
Roseburg National Cemetery Supervisor Daniel Carver taught the students where to place the flags.
Carver explained that just like anything else in the military, he wanted the flags to look orderly and neat. Centered with the marker and a flag’s length away.
Last year the students were unable to place the flags due to the coronavirus pandemic, Roseburg’s semi-pro football team was able to pull together its own resources to place flags.
“It’s nice to have (the students) back. It’s been a tradition for many years,” Carver said, adding that it’s very important that students learn about the sacrifices and history.
Fir Grove third grade teacher Jenny Eames said she taught students about the history of Memorial Day with a video and engaging them in a discussion. She added that getting them to participate in this activity helped bring the lesson home for many of them.
“To talk about numbers is an abstract concept for the students,” Eames said. “I heard several students go ‘Wow, all of these people died for their country?’ It brings a reality to the magnitude of service.”
Students were quick to share stories of people in their lives who served in the military, or people in their lives who had died.
Cooper said his father, who is still alive, was in the military. Cooper was happy to support the military by putting the flags next to the graves.
But it wasn’t just students who had a personal connection to the holiday and the ceremony.
Instructional Assistant Diane Lease said her brother was in the other cemetery and she was glad the students were able to come back this year to actively participate in the holiday.