It may not what our fallen heroes deserve or make up for what's lost this year but Jay Rice put it best when he said, “it's something.”

Rice was out at Hillcrest Cemetery on Friday morning looking for graves with military markers to place American flags.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic American Legion Post 20 has had to cancel its annual Memorial Day service this year.

Because it isn't feasible as far as the time it takes and the social distance that's required, American Legion Post 20 is also unable to place American flags at the military grave sites at Hillcrest Cemetery, Vandalia Cemetery and St. Anne's Cemetery.

The American Legion has been able to place 4,000 flags at the military grave sites annually until this year. It's believed to be the first time since at least the early 1970s the American Legion hasn't been able to do what it normally does on Memorial Day.

Rice contacted The American Legion to inform them he would at least try to lead an effort to place as many flags as possible at local military gravesites.

Rice said it's understandable the American Legion can't do what it normally does this year. “They're following orders,” said Rice, who served in the U.S. Marines himself and is also a Burton School board member. “They're pretty saddened by it.”

Rice bought 40 flags and was walking around Hillcrest Cemetery, looking for military grave sites for them to be placed. He said others were also planning to place flags at military grave sites throughout the weekend.

He added as many people are encouraged to buy as many flags as they can to place at military grave sites.

And of course there were already those at the cemetery who were placing flags at their loved one's military grave sites on Friday.

Rice said the effort to place the flags at the military grave sites has to be staggered throughout the weekend to meet social distance guidelines.

Among the grave sites he placed a flag at was of legendary Porterville Panther Band director Buck Shaffer, who served in the U.S. Air Force.

He also placed a flag at the grave site of fellow U.S. Marine Fransisco “Frankie” Geronimo Villegas. Rice said Villegas also worked for Sony testing video games. “The brotherhood,” said Rice about his fellow Marine.

He said he will come back by on Tuesday to pick up the flags and added those who place flags at the military grave sites should do the same.


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