FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local veteran donates thousands of American flags for the Fayetteville National Cemetery after public Memorial Day events are canceled.
“It’s honoring the ones who gave the full sacrifice, their lives for the country,” said retired Army Colonel Brad Welch.
This year U.S. Veterans Affairs made the decision not to hold public laying of flags events for Memorial Day because of the new coronavirus. Director of the Fayetteville National Cemetery Skip Solomon organized a private ceremony to be shared online instead.
“This is a tradition that has been going on for at least 150-plus years, so it is a little heartbreaking to know that we can’t do the ceremony,” said Solomon.
Welch served the U.S. Army for more than two decades. He said he was stunned to learn he was not going to be able to pay his respects to fallen military members like he’s done in the past on Memorial Day.
“I looked at my wife, and she looked at me. She knew what I was thinking, and we said, “let’s just do it,” said Welch. “So, we purchased 10,000 flags to be placed out here.”
The couple donated the flags to Bo’s Blessings, a local veterans group, and volunteers placed flags on thousands of graves over the weekend.
“We just could not support it because of the outbreak. We couldn’t support having a public gathering come out because we didn’t want to take a chance on public safety,” said Solomon.
Welch said this was his way to honor the nation’s heroes.
“It’s very important for spouses, families, and children, of those who have gone before us, to see not only a flag on their headstones, but to see their brothers-and sisters-in-arms covered as well.”
The flags will be removed on Tuesday.