Readying American Legion Veteran’s Cemetery for Memorial Day

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Veteran Ron Hedrick and volunteers are sprucing up the American Legion Cemetery.

That’s in preparation for Memorial Day. Girl Scouts and other local kids will be there. Hedrick invites the public to help put flags on the 245 headstones at their 8 am Monday, May 27 service. They’ll have plenty of flags.

The first United States soldier (Kenneth Shadrick) to be killed in Korea is buried at the American Legion Cemetery. It’s rare to have the first of any combat fatality buried in your cemetery, let alone one of this size.

“We’ve got Civil War soldiers here, Spanish-American War, War of 1812, we got 54 World War I veterans buried here,” said Veteran’s Museum president Hedrick, of American Legion Post 32. “The majority are World War II veterans buried here. But we also have Korea and Vietnam and some Desert Storm soldiers.”

The cemetery will also soon have an Argonne Cross Memorial in honor of the one at Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to the American military who perished in France during World War I.

On Memorial Day, as we look at these silent headstones, they speak volumes. Let’s remember the price paid for our freedom.

There are still plots left, where veterans will be entombed and the cemetery will continue to grow.

“We want to make sure that it looks nice, that it’s taken care of and that every Memorial Day, families can come here and feel good about visiting their loved one,” Hedrick said.

Memorial Day honors soldiers’ sacrifice and the Army veteran says it’s morphed into a celebration of our country too.

“It’s almost like another 4th of July,” he said. “We celebrate Memorial Day now to be proud to be Americans and proud to honor those who did serve.”

Shady Spring Middle School choir will be singing songs and a new flagpole will be erected at American Legion Cemetery.

“We are getting a new flag from Senator Manchin’s office. And so we’ll hoist up that new flag as the anthem’s being sung by the choir,” said Hedrick. “And we’re just going to make it a nice kickoff to Memorial Day here at the cemetery. You know, honoring these 245 brave souls who served our country.”

As an Army veteran with family serving and those who made the ultimate sacrifice — he says Memorial Day holds special meaning.

“To be a veteran. It’s a great day to honor those who since went on. It’s a day of proud to be an American, proud to be part of this country and proud to have served,” said Hedrick.

Pay your respects to an American Legion Cemetery veteran or any veteran.

“All cemeteries have veterans in ‘em,” Hedrick said. “Get your little flag. Go find one and celebrate that veteran you find.”

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