Despite the harsh cold winds blowing across St. Columban Parish Cemetery last Thursday, Tom and Mary Stuver walked up and down the rows of headstones looking for, and placing a flag on veterans graves just before Veteran’s Day.
While this year’s task was cold, it was nothing compared to the sacrifices of veterans across the country, Tom a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, said the sacrifices made by veterans should not be taken for granted any day of the year.
“Its cold out here,” he said. “But when you think of the actions of our veterans - so we can be free. When you think of their sacrifices, this is nothing.”
Tom and Mary have been placing the flags on the graves of nearly 240 veterans buried in the cemetery for years, though Tom says it has been going on for quite sometime and as others have gotten older or passed away he and Mary have taken over the honor of placing the flags.
“It looks beautiful when it is all done and the wind blows,” he said. “It is a very fitting tribute.”
The couple places the flags in holder specifically made for the cause, and uses flags provided by the Livingston County Courthouse.
Several years ago, Tom accompanied one of the former organizers of the event as they walked up and down the rows in the cemetery, hoping to ensure they recorded the names and burial sites of as many veterans as they could.
“There Is a lot of history in this cemetery. Some families have five generations of veterans buried here,” he said. “Some of the veterans no longer have family living or they do not live in this area. It is important their service is never forgotten.”
Tom recalls returning stateside after his service in Vietnam where he served as a medivac including four Westpac cruises and being faced with demonstrators. “That is not how it should have been then,” he said. “Making sure that veterans are honored for their service, for their dedication to ensuring our everyday rights and freedoms is something every person in this country should do.”
The Stuver’s place flags on veterans graves at the St. Columban Parish Cemetery at both Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.