Grave decoration a time-honored ritual

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 5/24/22

In preparation for Memorial Day, members of Boy Scout Troop 4027, American Legion Post 1420, Civilian Air Patrol, girl scouts, cub scouts, community members and veterans gathered at Cedar Hill …

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Grave decoration a time-honored ritual


In preparation for Memorial Day, members of Boy Scout Troop 4027, American Legion Post 1420, Civilian Air Patrol, girl scouts, cub scouts, community members and veterans gathered at Cedar Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum to place flags at the veteran grave markers and headstones.

On Saturday, May 21, the various groups gathered at Cedar Hill’s main office to receive instructions for the morning and then dispersed to place the flags. Cedar Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum was first established in 1865 and covers 148 acres of land.

From 11:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m., each group placed flags and returned to the entrance of the cemetery. Troop 4027 Scout Leader Kevin Hovencamp called his scouts to attention and other groups followed as several scouts lowered the American flag at the entrance to the cemetery. According to Hovencamp, over a 1000 flags were placed throughout the cemetery and Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio shared words of gratitude for the groups that came out to place the flags at all the markers.

Newburgh resident Ann Fisher, joined by her daughter Lisa Garzetta, arrived at Cedar Hill and helped place flags in front of a mausoleum and shared she was grateful to see the support of the various groups out with the flag placements.

“We have so much to be grateful for. Our freedom. Our independence,” Fisher said.

2nd Lieutenant Guy Borges and Captain Michael Mazanec of the Civilian Air Patrol [CAP] who helped in the placing of the flags reflected on the importance of Memorial Day and what it meant to place the flags. CAP also had several cadets who assisted in the flag placing.

“It’s important to remember our veterans. It’s good to come out and clean them [the gravestones] up a little bit, put a flag there to remember, and make sure that name is never forgotten,” Borges said. “Living in this area, it has a very, very rich and long history as part of the story of American history.”

“With our organization being youth driven, it’s great to be able to get the cadets out and get them to start learning about honoring the veterans and watch them placing the flags at the headstones and markers,” Mazanec said. “This Memorial Day, any time you come near the American flag or you see a veteran marker or a monument in regards to service, I just ask the community to stop, take a moment, take it in, pay some respects, we wouldn’t be here without our veterans.”

Rob Ranghelli, who served in Vietnam, joined fellow veterans and community members to place flags during the morning. Ranghelli shared that placing the flags at the gravesites was a powerful experience for him as he reflected on the meaning of Memorial Day.

“Just going around and seeing the various grave markers, grave markers from veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Some of the Civil Air Patrol members who are helping us here said they found grave sites going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt’s day and the Spanish American War. Some that might go back to the Civil War,” said Ranghelli. “Seeing all of those markers, it starts to affect you.”

Keeping the memory alive of Memorial Day is important to be taught in today’s generation, Ranghelli said.

German and Christina Delgado of Troop 4027 shared that they have been placing flags for several years now and sometimes, a different name or date is discovered. For both of them, it is important to continue this tradition and the memory of veterans alive.

“No matter what conflict, no matter what part of the army or no matter what part of civil corps or civilians by themselves, just remembering that they have sacrificed a lot,” German said. “Let’s try to make the world that we live in a little bit better for [the] next generations.”

“I think it’s really important to always know your history,” Christina said.

“Everyone should just like take a moment and just think about what everyone has given. We’re here because of them. We should be grateful for them.”