Photos: Memorial Day flags placed at graves of Arizona veterans in Marana

Around 70 people placed hundreds of flags at gravesites at the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Marana, Ariz., on Friday morning.

Some used hammers to pound the flags into the hard earth, while others brought electric drills and made small holes before gently planting a flag at each grave in preparation for Memorial Day on Monday, May 27.

Memorial Day — originally known as Decoration Day following the Civil War — “pays tribute and mourns the loss of all men and women who have died serving in the U.S. military,”said Veronica Padilla, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services.

Jacqueline Legg, one of several members of Rotary International who helped plant flags on Friday morning, said she came to remember her father, a World War II veteran who fought at Pearl Harbor. Legg said he was one of the first to shoot down Japanese planes as they swept into the harbor on that infamous day and struck at the heart of the U.S. Navy, sinking several ships, including the battleship USS Arizona.

Meanwhile, Gabe Cundiff and his compatriots, Alan Kowalski and Lee Aitken used a hammer to knock the flags into the tough earth. Cundiff, known as “Bear,” is the chapter commander for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, which raises money to help combat veterans. Bear used a screwdriver as chisel hitting it with the hammer to create a hole for each of the flags bundled in Kowalki’s hands while Aitken looked on. 

Among the group was U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who was joined by his children and planted flags along the graves.

The event in Marana was one of three across the state, including a ceremony at the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista and the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at Camp Navajo west of Flagstaff.